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Man drowned: Urgent warning of cooling in the Rhine

A 49-year-old man was swept away by the current and drowned in front of his children. The vortices at groynes are particularly dangerous. Before the hot weekend, the DLRG calls for people not to swim in the river.

After the death of a family man, there is an urgent warning against swimming in the Rhine. “The danger of the water is always underestimated,” said a police officer in Bingen on Friday, where witnesses are now being questioned about the exact circumstances of the swimming accident on Corpus Christi. In view of the particularly high temperatures at the weekend, the German Life Saving Society (DLRG) is also concerned that more people could drown in the Rhine.

According to the police, the 49-year-old man, together with his two children aged eight and eleven and another man, ran over a groyne towards the island of Ilmenau on Thursday afternoon. Some distance from shore, all four fell into the river. The two children and the companion of the family man managed to get to safety on the stage. The 49-year-old was pulled under the water by the strong current and drowned. His body was recovered in Bingen-Gaulsheim.

“Backflow vortices form on groynes,” said a spokesman for the German Life Saving Society (DLRG) about the dams, which are usually built at right angles from the bank to the middle of the river. The riprap regulates the flow of water and serves to protect the banks. The vortices could catch bathers quickly. “They are pulled into the fairway, panic and then they lose,” said the DLRG spokesman. “Swimming in the Rhine is fundamentally dangerous.” No matter how hot it gets, you should avoid it – “you don’t ride your bike on the autobahn, after all”.

“When it gets hot, the number of accidents increases,” says the DLRG spokesman. That has been the experience of the rescuers for years. According to the DLRG, six people drowned in Rhineland-Palatinate last year while bathing in water, two of them in the Rhine. In 2020, with a particularly hot summer, there were a total of 16 in the federal state, including four in the Rhine.

The police always keep an eye on the banks of the Rhine in summer, said the police officer in Bingen. “We are on site with patrol cars, and the water police are also there.” But the long bank of the Rhine cannot be continuously monitored around the clock. “Unfortunately, swimming accidents happen again and again.”


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