Families of men, child swept away in Milwaukee drainage ditch call on city leaders to prevent future tragedies

NOW: Families of men, child swept away in Milwaukee drainage ditch call on city leaders to prevent future tragedies

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Grieving families whose loved ones were swept away by the rushing water in a drainage ditch last week are calling on City Hall to make changes to prevent future loss of life. 

The first of what will likely be many conversations about the drainage ditch were had Tuesday by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD). 

The alderman who represents 27th and Loomis, where a father and son and their neighbor drowned, says many options for safety were discussed. 

Family surrounded the wife of Rashidullah Abdul Hashim with loving support eight days after her husband drowned trying to save their son, Arman, after Arman chased after his soccer ball. Their neighbor, Zakaria Gonumeah, who couldn't swim, also jumped in to try to help.

"She has expressed that the only request she has is to build some sort of a fence to avoid this incident from happening to another family," said Max Muhammad, Rohingya Youth president, translating for Ayub Gahfar, Rashidullah's brother.

Children continue to play across the street from the drainage ditch. Ninety percent of the time it holds shallow, stagnant water. 

"You know we don't want the same accident to happen again," said Ashraf Yassin, Zakaria's nephew.

"It's really dangerous, as you can tell because of the last incident," said Bibi Ayesha Abdul Shakur, Zakaria's niece.

MMSD is now talking options -- District 13 Alderman Scott Spiker says consideration is being made for possible signs, a fence or a more permeable barrier. 

"One of the things they cautioned is that if they put up a barrier that a child can climb over, and a parent or first responder can't get to them quickly enough, that may also put them in danger," said Alderman Spiker.

Another option is to remove the concrete, but that could cost $400 million for the entire stretch and take years to accomplish.

"Even if you can't do it along the whole stretch of the creek, which is extremely long, in areas like this where it's populated, that would make more sense," said Alderman Spiker.

The mayor sent us a statement saying he supports looking into all reasonable steps to protect future lives. The family expressed appreciation for the hard work by first responders.

"I'm really thankful that you guys find my uncle," said Aisyah Yassin, Zakaria's niece.

Alderman Spiker says MMSD will be taking a closer look at the suggestions and undergoing internal deliberations. 

A Gofundme account remains active to help the widows of these men. You can find that by clicking here

The families are also hoping to raise enough money to help Rashidullah's widow bring her family members to the U.S. from Bangladesh because she is now all alone with her children. 

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