Prevent A Summer Tragedy

I still remember that summer. It was nearly 30 years ago. I was 11 years old. Six months ago we’d moved back to the states. Six months ago my kid brother didn’t have two best friends named Chester and his cousin, Leo. They were both sweet kids. Rambunctious, playful…a lot like my brother. And they both wanted to marry me. Let’s face it, that was never going to happen. The boys were four years younger than me, but it was flattering.

Every summer our church used to have a group summer retreat at Little Grassy Lake in a small town near Carbondale, IL. They’d rent out cabins and have all sorts of fun events for the kids. This was our first summer to go. Many of the families headed out that Wednesday, but we weren’t able to leave until Friday and would only be staying for the weekend….or so we thought.

Even at 11, I knew something was horribly wrong when we arrived. Groups of people were clumped together. Close friends were huddled in circles. The sound of tears and wailing could be heard the instant the van door was opened. There was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was too much like what it sounded like when my youngest brother died nearly a year before. Part of me wanted to wrap my arms over my ears to try to block out the noise that was tearing away at my heart. It was too much, too soon. But I couldn’t.

Instead, my sister, brother and I, along with one of the friends we’d come with held hands as we waited for her parents to find out what had happened. Unfortunately, voices carry…

“I can’t believe Chester Drowned!”

That horrible, horrible sentence seemed to be coming from every direction at once.

My head turned toward the bank further down the hill. Men in blue uniforms were there with a stretcher. Someone was strapped in and covered. Considering the distended belly I couldn’t imagine it could be the same, thin little boy who had argued with his cousin just last week about which of them was going to win my hand.

How was this possible, I wondered. There had been tons of people at the lake. Where had his parents been? Had they not been watching? But I knew better. His parents were protective! What about his many cousins? If he’d been screaming or flailing, he would’ve been rescued immediately! Unlike what happens in the movies, I can guarantee you this never happened. As if I hadn’t already learned how quickly a situation could turn fatal, this was one more example…

Sadly, the search afterward had been caught on video by one of the people there. Friends and family had been looking for him for about 30 minutes before they’d found him and pulled him out. He was already gone. It was the first time I’d seen what a drowning death looked like, and let me tell you, it’s nothing like the movies.

This year a link showed up in my Facebook talking about silent drowning. For Chester and because it’s summertime, I thought I needed to share the link here as well. You never know when it might save a life. Drowning, Quick And Silent-How To Spot Someone In Trouble

The other thing I’ll ask…. Please, please, PLEASE! If you have a pool, supervise your kids. Don’t leave it up to other children to watch out. My neighbors down the street had a few children…I’d see them playing in the street all the time. The youngest was about 2. The parents were never out there; instead they left it up to the 8 and 10 year olds to watch the younger ones. Coming home from work a couple years ago I drove past their house. It was surrounded by police, ambulance and fire trucks.

Thinking maybe one of the kids had finally been hit by a careless driver while playing in the street I said a silent prayer that the injury wasn’t very serious. It wasn’t until I got in to work that one of my employees asked if I knew the little 2 year old baby who’d drowned. Apparently, in the papers it noted that the child had been left in the “supervision” of an older sibling and had made it into the back yard. She’d fallen into the pool. By the time someone noticed it was too late.

I won’t go on a rant about careless parenting. They paid the ultimate price. No one deserves to feel that kind of pain. No child should have to go through that. What I will ask is that you educate yourselves…and love and protect your children. You never know when this knowledge could save a life.


26 thoughts on “Prevent A Summer Tragedy

  1. notsofancynancy says:

    When I was about 10 years old I was over a friends house who had a pool. I was not swimming but playing in the driveway when I heard a splash and looked over the fence to see a one year old flailing in the pool. I did not hesitate and jumped the fence and got that baby out of the pool. There were no adults in attendance and when the kids went and got them they did not even thank me. It was something I never forgot. Thank you for the link and spreading the safe rules on.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      That child was lucky you were there. It’s even more fortunate that you were strong enough to be able to get that baby out of the pool and not endanger both your lives. Rude parents. Let me say thank you on their behalf.


      • notsofancynancy says:

        Thank you. Yes I had always been a strong swimmer and had already been swimming and taking lessons for years. I got in trouble because my mom had told me I was not allowed in the pool that day. Took a while for her to calm down and hear the real story.


  2. Professor Taboo says:

    When it came to growing up in my immediate family & extended family, especially during the summers, COMMON SENSE seemed extraordinarily COMMON! I always thought it was just the parents being annoying parents, not letting us have too much fun. But now that I have my own (both of which are exceptional swimmers) & I’ve been to plenty of public beaches & pools, astonishingly that common sense was really not common at all. Shocking to me really, but sadly the reality. On any type of super physical activity for my kids — just like what was done for me as a young boy — I was always within eye-sight, or another responsible parent was there if I had stepped away. Then typically there were more parents within earshot.

    Amazing that we’re even talking about this now, but you’re right Kitt… sadly it needs to be, huh? 😦


  3. ramblingsfromamum says:

    A girlfriend of mine had a little boy not 2 years old, as she had to work he was left in the care of the baby-sitter. An outside small blow up pool with possibly less than 1″ of water…. she went into the house and left him playing in it…she came back… one life lost and 2 that will never recover.


  4. renée a. schuls-jacobson says:

    Oh Kitt. I’m sorry. I saw that link, too — and since I used to work as a lifeguard, I read it and agreed whole-heardedly! I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for haring your story to get this important message out there.


      • renée a. schuls-jacobson says:

        I think that piece caught a lot of attention. Flailing and screaming is NOT what drowning looks like. Swimmers in distress quietly go under. It’s pretty terrifying. That’s why it’s sooooo important for guard to be able to SEE the bottom of the pool. Cloudy conditions don’t work when you’re trying to protect kids. I know people get mad when pools close on hot days, but it’s better not to risk lives.


  5. Phil says:

    As a young kid I almost drowned in a pool and my dad grabbed me before it got serious. Parents need to keep an eye on them near any kind of water, and also to teach them how to swim at a young age. I sure learned right after that incident.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I’ll bet! Initially, after Chester’s death, I had the opposite reaction and became afraid to get in water that was more than waist high. I had to work to overcome my fears & learn to swim.


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