A 38-year-old man went swimming on the beach in front of Beach Side Village with his two sons last Tuesday. It was a windy day, and the water was choppy and brown with foam flecks on the surface. We don’t know what happened, but the man ended up unconscious.
The trio was spotted in chest deep water by a bystander. Fortunately, the children had life jackets on and were able to support him as they made slow progress back towards the beach. The bystander got to them in waist deep water, helped pull the man to shore and initiated CPR. A beach patron helped bring him to shore from waist deep water and initiated CPR.
Beach Patrol received a call at 2:10pm of a possible drowning incident and Beachside Village, Galveston, and responded along with Police Fire, and EMS. When they arrived, they found bystanders performing CPR on a man laying on the beach. They helped move him to dry sand, broke out their CPR gear and were quickly joined by the Galveston Marine Response team of Fire, Police, and EMS.
After providing life support measures, EMS transported him to John Sealy Emergency Room, where he was pronounced dead at 3:08pm.
It’s hard to even wrap your head around what an unspeakable tragedy this is. We can quantify it statistically by saying this is the 4th drowning fatality of the season. We can offer tips on how to reduce your chances of getting hurt or worse at the beach, like urging swimmers to swim near a lifeguard, avoid swimming near structures or at the ends of the island, never swimming alone, obeying warning signs and flags, designating a water watcher, children and non-swimmers using a properly fitted US Coast Guard approved lifejackets when in or around the water, and not swimming when under the influence of alcohol. Many of us rationalize, lay blame, or take a fatalistic approach as a defense mechanism.
But to think about those kids trying to bring their father to shore, his family hoping he’ll survive as first responders tried so hard to save him. Or the impact of the loss on his family, friends, and colleagues. Or the ripples he would have sent out throughout his world had he survived. The good things he would have done. Its too much.
Saying our hearts go out to the family sounds trite, but its true. The lifeguards, the Survivor Support Network, the Wave Watchers, the Police, Fire, EMS all feel it. And for many of us, each incident like this renews our commitment to do everything in our power to prevent tragedies and reduce the chances of this happening to others.
One thing that’s a bittersweet consolation is the family was smart enough and proactive enough to make sure the kids were in lifejackets. Were they not, this could easily become a double or triple drowning incident, like so many others.
But they did. And as a result, those kids will go on to hopefully live long and fulfilling lives.