Courtesy photo Ouachita County residents and members of the Ouachita County Quorum Court pose after enacting 'Cooper's Law' which will promote water safety in the county.
The Ouachita County Quorum Court on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance concerning water safety following three deadly drowning incidents this year in the Ouachita River.
Dubbed "Cooper's Law" after 17-year-old Cooper Daugherty who drowned in the river in March, the ordinance states that the county will set "public access closure to all boat ramps on the Ouachita River with locked gates above flood stage of 26 feet."
Additionally, the Quorum Court recommended flotation devices and designated that County Judge Robert McAdoo place throwable flotation devices at all public access points along the river, including Tate's Bluff, Knights Landing, Sandy Beach, Riverwalk, Frenchport Landing, Spoon Bend and any future public access point.
Signage with green for low, yellow for medium and red for high threat will be placed along the river.
Concerned Ouachita County residents approached the Quorum Court asking that safety measures be put in place in April.
In May, Sherri Steelman, speaking on behalf of the group of concerned residents, read from a letter with several policy proposals that ultimately were the basis for the ordinance approved Tuesday evening.
The law had previously been proposed to the Camden City Council, where Mayor Julian Lott noted he did not have purview over the river's entry points.
Steelman said the group did more research and learned that the Quorum Court had the legal authority to enact such regulations.
Steelman also advocated for an educational nonprofit The Ouachita County Safety Coalition that would go into schools to teach river safety.
"If you grew up in Camden or Harmony Grove you know the dangers of that river, but we have so many people in our community that have no idea of the power of that river," she said.