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Family mourns 17-year-old who drowned trying to cross River

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    SULLIVAN, Missouri (KMOV) — Ahead of a busy summer swimming season, new concerns are being raised about the safety of swimming at area lakes and rivers. Euleta and Monte Bergner are grieving the loss of their 17-year-old grandson who died in the Meramec River the evening of May 16.

“It’s pretty awful because it’s something we’ll never know what happened or what the reason is for God taking him but he took him for a reason at that age, maybe eventually we’ll find out the reason,” Monte Bergner said.

It was around 6:30 p.m. when family members said Allen Bergner went to the Meramec River in Sullivan with friends. Missouri Highway Patrol said he tried swimming across the river near the boat ramp, got exhausted and eventually drowned. His grandparents said he was known as a good swimmer.

“That current is terribly strong and there’s undertow, it’s real deep water by those bluffs anyway, you don’t really have a chance,” Monte Bergner said.

According to online records, Bergner is the fourth person to drown in the Meramec River in the last year. The Department of Natural Resources said signage is posted warning visitors of risks, but the Bergners believe patrols near swimming areas are needed.

“We understand he was under the water for close to 30 minutes and maybe, maybe something could have happened, he could have been saved quicker if there were some type of patrolling in the area,” Euleta Bergner said.

As the temperatures heat up, drowning is a main concern at lakes and rivers around the bi-state. Sunday afternoon, authorities say an 11-year-old boy drowned in the Big River near Cedar Hill in Jefferson County. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said the outing for the family initially started as a birthday celebration.

As they continue to grieve the loss of their grandson, the Bergners pray sharing their story helps save another life. “We hope it will help somebody else over the holidays, summer,” Bergner said.

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