Grapevine Lake

Southlake Teen Who Nearly Drowned 10 Years Ago Raising Money for Life Jackets

Rohan Rumalla is on a mission to raise awareness about water safety

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A Southlake teen who nearly drowned 10 years ago in his backyard pool is hoping his story will save lives.

Rohan Rumalla has raised thousands of dollars to buy life jackets to be put out at Grapevine Lake.

NBC5 first met Rumalla a decade ago when his parents spoke about the day their son nearly drowned.

Rumalla, now 17, remembers that day.

“I was under water almost 5 minutes. My uncle did CPR for 5 minutes. Paramedics came. A helicopter landed on our lawn right outside," he said. "They took me to Cook Children’s. I was in a coma for 3 days."

The experience inspired him to launch a fundraiser to buy life jackets for the Loan a Life Jacket Program. He has raised over $5,500.

The program was set up in 2017 by the Grapevine Fire Department to honor firefighter and rescue diver James McKenzie who drowned at Grapevine Lake while off duty.

Life vests are set up at stations around the lake for people to borrow, but they don't always get returned.

The program is donation-driven and funds have dried up since the pandemic, Grapevine Fire Marshal Bryan Parker said.

“We had a meeting in February and fire officials told us then they were running low on funds," Rumalla said. "I thought, 'ok, this is the perfect time to do it.' "

He hopes to present a check with proceeds from the fundraiser to the city before the Fourth of July.

“I feel like if I can do my part, to help prevent further drownings, then I should do everything I can," Rumalla said.

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