Parents concerned about water safety following recent drownings

Sunday, July 28, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'Clock

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- On a beautiful day like today, it's hard for Naomi Robinson to keep the little ones out of the water. So, she straps on the life jackets and keeps a close eye.

"They're never by themselves because even in just a little bit of water, you just never know," Naomi Robinson said.

But today, especially, she's on edge after witnessing a 23-year-old drown at Clark's Hill Lake.

It happened yesterday after investigators say Marquez and his uncle, Joshua Bey, took a canoe and paddled out into the main channel of the lake. Joshua told investigators a boat came by and the wake tipped the canoe over. He said when he came up, he could not find Marquez.

After a day and a half of searching, DNR and fire rescue are still looking for the 23-year-old.

"I passed by the other pavilion and you could just see the family just standing by the water, hugging each other like something had happened," Robinson said. "Next thing you know, there's DIVE teams out there and you could just see them diving in the water."

It's a tragedy we hear about all too often and it's not always kids who need to be careful.

On June 30th, 17-year-old Antonio Freeman jumped in a river near Alberclauss Drive but never came back up.

A day earlier, 57-year-old Michael Cain drowned in the pool.

And a month before that -- 60-year-old Ronnie McGruder drowned at Wildwood park trying to swim towards his boat floating away.

"That's a scary moment because you know you're going to have to jump right in, you're right there," Kathryn Ayres, the head lifeguard at the Wilson Family YMCA said. "It's scary just to see that it happens."

On a day like this, the pool is packed. It's Kathryn's job to make sure everyone stays afloat.

"If your kid can't swim definitely get a coast guard certified life jacket, keep them out of the sun," Ayres said. "They can tend to get fatigued from the sun, make sure they come out for breaks, we do 10 minute safety breaks here every hour."

Whether you're a kid learning to swim or an adult who has been swimming forever, it's a reminder that you can never be too careful out in the water.

Kathryn says she often sees parents on their phones while they're at the pool and before they know it, their kid swims off. And it's not just kids, she says adults should always wear life jackets especially deep out in the water.

Deputies say in this case, the canoe did have life jackets inside, but the victim was not wearing one.