The perils of San Antonio’s River Walk

From her vantage point at Cafe Olé, Mary Esther Lewis sees lots of stuff fall into the San Antonio River Walk: restaurant truck delivery items, phones and strollers.

She even used to see people celebrate birthdays by throwing friends in the water.

That stopped when police started fining jumpers.

One time, Lewis, who has worked as a waitress at Cafe Olé for three years, watched as an aggressive drunk trying to start fights fell into the river. If weren’t for bystanders, Lewis believes, the man would be dead.

The San Antonio River Walk covers five miles of downtown and is a major tourist attraction for the city. The river runs between 2 to 24 feet deep in spots — and police are serious about keeping people out due to the dangers.

Police arrest or fine people who fall into the river, even if it is an accident.

According to news reports, deaths do occur. Lewis recalled one time where she saw a dead man floating face down the river. 

The only part of him visible was his backpack. 

Breybinda Zurisaday Alvarez is a second-year graduate student at the University of Arkansas, studying journalism. Breybinda has interned for a Spanish-language newspaper, La Prensa Libre in Springdale, Arkansas. Reach her at and on Twitter at @breybinda.

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