Recent drownings prompt water safety lessons in Lowndes County

By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 12, 2018

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Lowndes County officials are pushing prevention after the area has seen a high number of drowning deaths.

Officials say there have been six drowning deaths in Lowndes County in recent months, and even more which have directly impacted the community.

Two Lowndes High School students died this year, Jaylen Lott and Josh Gardner. Valdosta State University student Pace Taylor was swept away in the Mississippi River at the end of last month.

Lowndes County officials said these incidents could have been prevented.

Swimming safety is a skill often taken for granted, but with an increase in drowning deaths, Lowndes County officials and the YMCA are teaming up. They said what many of these deaths have in common comes down to supervision.

The best way to prevent an accident is to always be tentative and to constantly watch those in the water. If you leave the area, hand off supervision to another person, no matter how old the swimmer is.

"This isn't just children and it's not selective. It can happen to anybody. That's why the supervision of swimmers is so important. Supervise the people that you're at the pool with, watch them closely because children that can swim, or adults that can swim initially, will eventually tire out," said Lowndes County Coroner Austin Fiveash.

Experts say drowning doesn't look like it does in the movies. The person will usually look exhausted and be quiet, they won't be flailing their arms and yelling. They said it only takes a matter of seconds, which is why it's so important to always stay alert.

Valdosta City Schools partners with the YMCA to give water safety lessons to all second graders, but anyone can take swimming lessons at the YMCA.

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