“Don’t take a chance” – DeKalb Co. Sheriff warns visitors to county’s falls to stay safe while swimming

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. -- Each year, hundreds of locals and visitors enjoy DeKalb County's waterfalls and rivers but as beautiful as they are, they're just as dangerous. In fact, responders know each year they're going to get a call that someone got hurt.

"I live in a house my grandmother built in 1945," said Balpha Noojin, whose longtime family property overlooks DeSoto Falls.

He's enjoyed the beautiful view for years. But, he's also seen years of situations he wishes he hadn't. "Every year, we see kids jump off the falls," Noojin said,"We lose some kid every year in a tragic, unnecessary event, by them jumping off the falls."

"We respond every year to several calls," said DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris.

Harris adds they want folks to enjoy what DeKalb County has to offer, but safely.

DeSoto Falls and High Falls are just two of the popular swimming places in the county. At DeSoto, a sign greets visitors with a rather sobering message: people have been hurt jumping from the falls. Jumping from them isn't allowed.

"You've got to obey these signs and these rules. They're there for a reason," Harris said.

Some of these local swimming places where it's popular to jump off into the water might not have a warning sign posted. Harris says regardless, swimmers need to pay attention to their surroundings.

If jumping is allowed, check what's under the water. There could be rocks and debris, or the water could be too low. Pay attention to swift currents.

Bottom line, enjoy the county's beautiful places, but enjoy them safely. "If it says no jumping, no swimming, don't do it. Don't take a chance," Harris said.

"Every year. It just doesn't have to you know? It's a real tragedy," Noojin said.