Illustration by Vincent Maresca

Wash fence poses danger for students nearby

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Peering into the deep abyss of the Alhambra Wash, it is alarming to see that the only thing between the students and the large canal is a rusty, old chain-link fence. The fence, instead of providing a sense of security, imparts the opposite because of its low height and eroding condition.

This particular sector of the wash fencing is adjacent to the dirt path by the football field. Measured to be approximately three feet from the ground without the barbed wire and about three and a half feet with the wire on top, it is dangerously low.

Students are present near the fence for various occasions. Students in physical education (PE) classes occasionally run along it for their PE loops. Student athletes in sports, such as cross country, also utilize the dirt path. This puts them at risk of slipping or tripping when running, potentially toppling over the fencing and into the wash. Running in groups, as most PE classes and sports do, puts them at a greater risk because crowding can force some people to run in close proximity to the fence and such crowding may result in accidental pushing.

Moreover, the low fence allows for easier accessibility to the wash. Students may also take advantage of this in search for an adventure. In 1997, five San Gabriel High School students climbed a rope ladder down the wash and were exploring when a flood of water swept them. In the end, three students died. Since then, the ladder was removed, but this tragedy highlights the danger of the channel and how it should not be as easy to enter.

Further along the wash is the fence near the basketball courts. The fencing there is, in contrast, nine feet high. It is considerably more secure, compared to the eroded state of the other fence. As such, the fence should be replaced with a new, taller fence, one similar to the one by the basketball courts.

There are others who may argue that the wash fencing is most likely under the City of Alhambra’s jurisdiction and thus there are legal barriers to cross if the school wants to make any changes. However, it is the school’s top priority to ensure the safety of its students. It would be in the best interest of both the students and the school to replace the fence before an incident occurs and someone gets hurt. Even if the fence is under the authority of the City of Alhambra, the school should take the initiative and steps to collaborate with the city to resolve this problem.

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