Baltimore has long had problems with people falling in the Inner Harbor. What has been done about it?

Anne and Jim Schroeder's 26-year-old son Ryan died after falling into the Inner Harbor. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)

A 25-year-old woman’s body was recovered from the Inner Harbor on Saturday, the most recent fatality to stem from a fall into the murky waters.

A Baltimore Police spokesman said it appears Alexandra Carroll, a Federal Hill resident, drowned in the harbor. Her death came about a week after police had to rescue a man from the water near the Barnes & Noble bookstore on the other side of the harbor. And almost exactly a year after 26-year-old Ryan Schroeder died after struggling in the frigid harbor for roughly 40 minutes.


The city’s transportation department committed in August to spending roughly $125,000 to install safety equipment around the Inner Harbor.

The same day as the city’s announcement last summer, police removed a woman’s body from the harbor.


Baltimore has long struggled with safety around the harbor.

A decades-old problem

More than 50 bodies have been found in the Inner Harbor since 2000, according to local crime researcher Ellen Worthing. Among them were homeless people, tourists and those who live on houseboats. Police have cited alcohol as a factor in several cases.

There have been numerous high-profile examples, each prompting calls for action. In 1982, a 13-year-old girl in a wheelchair rolled into the water and drowned. A blind man nearly died two years later after tumbling into the cold waters.

Former Air National Guard member Evan Curbeam, 29, was found dead in the harbor near Fells Point in 2013. His father slammed the city in 2014 for not implementing measures that would prevent people from falling in.


The Schroeder family has been the most vocal proponents of increased safety measures in recent years.

Jim and Anne Schroeder of Duxbury, Mass., visited the spot where their son fell last February. They came to the city to implore officials to build “rails for Ryan” around the harbor.

What has the city done?

Since August, the city has installed 16 ladders and 35 emergency life ring stations around the water, specifically in areas near bars and with high foot traffic.

Baltimore has committed to spending roughly $125,000 to install safety equipment around the Inner Harbor following pleas from the parents of a 26-year-old man who died earlier this year after falling into the frigid waters.

“The installation of additional life rings and safety ladders is another step that DOT has taken to help ensure visitor safety along the harbor promenade,” Michelle Pourciau, the city’s Department of Transportation director, said in a statement when the measures were announced. “The safety of all citizens that visit Baltimore’s harbor is a top priority, and we are working to minimize risks.”

The Schroeder family donated $10,000 from the Ryan P. Schroeder Scholarship Fund to the Baltimore City Foundation to help pay for the safety improvements.

The planned improvements did not include rails.

Laurie Schwartz, president of the Waterfront Partnership, said then that the city’s original concept for the Inner Harbor, designed more than 40 years ago, does not call for railings because they can often exacerbate the problem.

“There was a lot of research done at other waterfront communities to look at how the water’s edge should be planned for and built,” she said. “They found that when there were rails, very often people, and especially children, would lean on the rails and fall in unintentionally.”

When there were rails, very often people, and especially children, would lean on the rails and fall in unintentionally.

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What’s next?

The city plans to add more ladders and rings in the spring, according to a transportation department spokesman.

German Vigil said the city will add nine more safety rings and eight more ladders around the harbor around mid-April. He said the transportation department is in conversations with the Waterfront Partnership to discuss how private property owners can help improve the safety around their land.

“Rails have not come up in discussions,” Vigil said.

This second phase of safety measures includes:

» One ring at Tide Point water taxi pier

» One ring and one ladder near Barnes & Noble, on the south side of bridge

» One ring and one ladder around Fells Point

» Six rings and six ladders along Anchorage Towers promenade

Vigil said these upgrades will cost about $50,000.

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