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Editor's Desk: Lake not as inviting as it seems

Wonderful things happen every summer at Greene Acres Park in downtown Clovis, from skateboarding to tennis, from picnics to fishing.

But the 24 acres featuring a lake that’s at least a century old has also been the scene of some of Clovis’ greatest tragedies.

The lake has taken the lives of at least three children, including one this month 26 years ago.

Aric Arnold was 9 on June 8, 1988, when he braved the water trying to rescue his sister and a cousin who’d ventured in after fishing, according to a witness who helped pull the girls to safety.

“I had seen them in the water that day, as I was driving by, and stopped in panic to see what I could do,” Mary (Fechter) Finifrock de Perez wrote in a letter published by the Clovis News Journal.

“I got into the water where the girls were, and by the time we got back onto the shore, Aric was gone, deep down into that filthy, muddy channel. When the divers came, it took them at least an hour to find him in the water …”

“When I look at his picture from the funeral flier, the only way I can see any sense or daylight in it is in knowing that Aric gave up his life in attempting to save his beloved sister and cousin. He voluntarily went into that dark, murky water, knowing he couldn’t swim.”

Clovis historian Don McAlavy in 2004 wrote about Arnold’s drowning as well as those of Hubert Bell, 12, and Skippy Hawkins, 15.

Bell drowned while swimming with friends in 1919. Residents called it Dutchman’s Lake then, and it was about a mile outside Clovis’ city limits.

Hawkins died on Dec. 20, 1973, while playing on the frozen lake. A nearby gas station attendant saw the ice break and ran to help the struggling boy, breaking ice himself as he tried to reach him. Don Loring’s legs were badly bruised from the ordeal, but neither he nor a

Southwestern Public Service Co. crew could reach the teen in time.

Signs posted at Greene Acres lake forbid swimming, wading and boating, but those considering seeking relief from the heat of upcoming summer days should also heed warnings from the memories of Aric Arnold, Skippy Hawkins and Hubert Bell.

From the Editor’s Desk was compiled by Clovis News Journal Editor David Stevens. Contact him at:

[email protected]