NTX Parents Remember Children Lost to Drownings

Cook Children's Medical Center, Texas cities & organizations launch Lifeguard Your Child campaign for drowning prevention

A hot summer weekend is ahead; the Fourth of the July holiday is next week.

It adds up time around the water, and it can mean danger for children.

Already this summer, Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth has had 41 drownings; seven were fatal.

The hospital believes the loudest message for prevention comes from parents who have lost children to drowning.

A husband and wife, a mother and a father, shared gripping accounts of their loss in interviews arranged by Cook Children's.

"It haunts you every day. I know it does me," said a father named Mike, whose son drowned in a hot tub in 2013. "I hear him every day say, dad, why weren't you there?"

"When I can't sleep, I go back to that night, and I think, I failed him as a mother," said Jane, Mike's wife. "I failed him."

Their son Jaylen died just days before his second birthday. The family was together when the toddler went under in a hot tub. He was pulled from the water but died on the way to the hospital.

Aaron knows the guilt Mike and Jane feel. He was with his daughter, Dixie, and son, Wyatt, at a lake in Palo Pinto County five years ago. The father and his children were in the water when Wyatt, 3, went under. Rescuers pulled the little boy's lifeless body from the lake.

In the video, Aaron tearfully recalls what a conversation with his daughter two weeks after the little boy's funeral.

"I'm looking in the back seat, and the little man's seat is empty. I'm having a bad day. And, Dixie said, 'It's okay, Daddy. We all miss him.' I said, 'I know baby girl. I just wished I could've saved him.' And she said, 'Well, daddy, you could've grabbed his hand.' And, that's when I knew she saw him. He was reaching for me and as a father, it hurt so much more."

"When you lose a child to drowning, your community gets way too small and way too large," said Dana, a mother whose 14-year-old son, Conner, drowned in 2012. He was with friends at the lake when he jumped in and never resurfaced. His body was recovered 40 minutes later.

"We drove like mad from Fort Worth to Mineral Wells, and we learned Connor was gone," recalled Dana. "And that's the day our happy family of four turned into a very broken family of three."

According to Cook Children's website, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages one to four, and the second leading cause for kids one to 14 in Texas."

Cook Children's partnered with several cities and organizations in a drowning prevention campaign called Lifeguard Your Child.

Online: Lifeguard Your Child

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