Drowning reenactment emphasizes importance of water safety

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 2:35pm

Summer is right around the corner, which means fun-filled weekends planned at local lakes. And, with two drowning incidents already reported at Lake Waco this year, officials say now is an appropriate time to teach children the importance of water safety.

"Even if you're the best swimmer in the world, you still have a chance of drowning," said Lorena eighth grade student, Cole Baker.

14-year-old Cole Baker played a drowning victim Tuesday, in front of his classmates from Lorena ISD, as a part of a lake safety program, put on by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The program is called "Forever 15: Tragedy on the Water".

"He's the cornerstone of our family, and he's gone," said Cole's dad, Bobby Baker, while still in character.

For Baker's family, who also acted in program, the scene was all too real.

"Whenever he came out of the water, just looking at him, I thought that it could really happen," said Cole's sister, Sloane Baker.

"To see him zipped up in a body bag, it was like very, you know, real," said Bobby.

Emergency officials say teaching the importance of water safety is priceless.

"Yes, absolutely there is a cost, gas, vehicles, officers, time. We don't even consider the cost when it comes to doing this program," said Waco PD Spokesman Patrick Swanton.

Waco PD, fire crews, EMS, a Waco funeral home, and others helped make the whole scene come together. In the past two weeks alone, two people have drowned in Lake Waco, making today's lesson even more relevant.

"200 yards of where we were doing the mock drowning this morning, we've actually had two drownings occur in the past couple of weeks," said Swanton.

After the demonstration ended, students were taken back to class to further discuss water safety. This is only the second year the program was put on, following its original pilot program being put on last year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hope to expand this program across the state and bring it back every year.

Statistics show people aged 14 to 24 make up a large percentage of drownings. Between 1998 and 2007, there were 1,643 water related fatalities on the 422 lakes in 43 states belonging to the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Of those fatalities, half of the victims were under 30-years-old.


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