JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – Officials are urging residents to stay out of the water at Rockford Beach Park, after a disappearance led to another fatal drowning on Saturday. Officials in the county say part of the problem is how residents are accessing the bluffs above the water.

It was a dangerous and risky walk along a cluster of rock rapids, ultimately leading to the drowning of a man believed to be in his mid-30s.

“What we believe happened is that he was walking along this rock rapid area, possibly slipped on the rocks, and went into the water,” Chief John Barton, High Ridge Fire Protection District, said.

The fire chief compared the rip of the current to a washing machine.

“It’s easy to get trapped in that current, and the current is just like a washing machine,” he said. “It’s just going to continue to churn over and over again.”

Barton said even strong swimmers underestimate the rapids.

It was the same instance that caused the fatal drowning of a 41-year-old man just a few weeks ago.

Officials had to close the park due to overcrowding.

“There was so many people here that we couldn’t even get rescue equipment to the scene,” Barton said.

Now, a deputy sheriff remains at the site during peak hours on the weekends.

“The people that reported the individual missing walked up to the deputy just to let him know there might be something wrong,” Barton said.

The chief is talking with the victim’s acquaintances, who are believed to be from St Louis City. They also told the sheriff that the man wasn’t good at swimming.

“Unfortunately, even with a deputy down here, he can’t monitor the entire crowd and notice when people are not able to swim but also venturing out into the water.”

It’s still unclear if intoxication was involved. That’ll be the final call of the medical examiner. Chief Barton said another serious threat is the inability to stop dangerous dives.

“Pretty frequently, what we see is people will come here, park here, and then just swim across the river and climb up the bluffs to jump off of them,” he said.

That part of the bluff, is private property, owned by residents. The owners tell us not only have trespassers gotten hurt on their property, they’ve vandalized it.

“If you go on the opposite side of the river, on that road, there’s signs up that say ‘No trespassing,’” Barton said.

Countless calls to avoid the dangers of the unpredictable waters fill the park.

“I think the very first sign when you come in here says something about a drowning hazard,” Barton said.

He said part of the problem is visitors to the area who don’t understand the urgency of the waters. Since 2014, there have been five drownings at Rockford Beach, two of which occurred this year.

There are a half-dozen rescues every year, Barton said.

“That’s a very significant amount of lives lost to a small portion of the river,” he said.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said the park should be open unless bad storms roll through.