Drowning Prevention for Teens
Teen Testimonials for Drowning Prevention
People who, through personal experience, understand the tragedy of drownings and how to prevent them.
Rene Breen and Roger Schmidt (Everett)
On May 28, 1995, Rene Breen's 20-year-old sister, Ronda Schmidt, joined a group of friends for a day at the Duckabush River on the Olympic Peninsula. Here's how Rene tells it, in her own words:
"My sister and her friends went to the river to do some rafting and have some fun. They checked the river activity at the starting point and at the end of the run and found conditions manageable. They didn't check the middle, which turned out to be class five white water conditions – class six is comparable to Niagara Falls. The raft got caught up with a submerged log and both my sister and another person didn't make it. They underestimated the power of the water and they weren't wearing life jackets.
"It's so difficult for me because I understand what it's like to just go looking for fun without worrying about the consequences. My sister was the mother of a 23-month-old son at the time. The hardest part is watching him grow up without the love of his mother. She loved him so much.
"I want people to understand the dangers associated with water activity. My father and I are working on a project called LIFESAVING SIGNS. It's a non-profit organization that works to create signs to notify people of dangerous sites around water. We have posted close to 250 signs at state parks and on dangerous rivers across Washington state. We're now working on a new life jacket sign with the U.S. Coast Guard. This is a healing process for both me and my dad. If we save the life of even one person, we'll feel like maybe we're making a difference."
Rene Breen and her father, Roger Schmidt, are available for interviews by calling Roger Schmidt at 425-513-0136.
Jeremy Johns (Kirkland)
Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Johns was swimming with four friends at Marsh Park off Main Street in Kirkland on June 8, 1998, when Jeremy nearly drowned swimming out to a buoy.
"We started out and were doing fine, but the buoy turned out to be further away than we thought. About halfway there, I started getting tired and decided to turn back. I hadn't gotten far before I was so tired I couldn't kick my legs anymore. My legs felt like lead, pulling me down, so I started screaming for help and flailing with my arms. It was so terrifying. I really was drowning out there," Jeremy said.
Jeremy's friends thought he was just joking and didn't try to help him. Just as he was sinking, two women and another young man jumped in and pulled him back to shore.
"We thought we were so cool we didn't need life jackets. I'm very active in sports, and always swam well, and still it happened to me. You can be a great swimmer and think you don't need a life jacket, but in certain situations they'll save your life," Jeremy said.
Jeremy Johns is available for interviews by calling Elizabeth Bennett at 206-987-5718.