Near-drowning inspires local water safety program

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 10:50 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A 9-year-old boy submerged under water: it’s a moment Kelby Walker says will never fade away.

“I was drowning. I got into a deeper part of the water that I couldn’t handle. ... I couldn’t stand up in,” Walker said. “I’ll never forget that and ill always keep it in the back of my mind.”

He says while he’s thankful to be alive today, the memory still ripples through his head.

He says hearing about the string of recent drownings in the CSRA has made him think back on his near-death experience. An experience he wants to prevent from happening again.

“The fear in the young man’s eye who could not swim and his friend that went after him... Man... It was heart wrenching,” Walker said.

“I knew at that point we had to do something. We had to get the community involved. We had to get our young men and young women the opportunity to know about water safety and swimming,” he said.

Now Walker, along with community leaders, are putting together a new swim safety and rescue program with the Aiken-Augusta Swim League to help change that. He says they already have the funding to go throughout the rest of this year and they’re looking to commissioners to get it fully budgeted for next year.

“I did not want that to happen again. I didn’t want another drowning in this community without us stepping up and lending a helping hand,” Walker said.

The swimming lessons will be free and will take place from Aug. 28 through Sept. 30. There will also be a second round that will take place through the end of October.

We will be sure to release more information as it becomes available.

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