Tragedy on the water puts focus on safety

Credit: Troy Colson/KTVB

Tragedy on the water puts focus on safety

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by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 7, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 2:00 AM

BOISE -- The drowning death of a young boy at Arrowrock Reservoir Monday is one of several in the Boise area this summer.

In July, 5-year-old Mason Goldberg lost his life after drowning in a pond in Star and now his family, along with community leaders, is springing into action to get kids familiar with how to swim.

Temperatures reached a scorching 105 degrees Tuesday and many people found refuge by getting into area lakes and rivers.

“Yeah I am cooling off,” said 11-year-old Jayden Martinez, who is camping at Mack’s Creek Park with the City Light summer kids program.

“At first when I came here I was kind of scared to get into the water,” said Jayden. “I don't really like deep water.”

But Jayden and the rest of the kids camping at the summer program learned Monday night the importance of being safe around the water.

“The kids all saw the Life Flight helicopter, it flew up the valley here and they were all kind of like what's going on?” said City Light children services manager Ashley Dudunake.

On Monday night, emergency crews responded to Arrowrock Reservoir, just up the road from the camp. Boise County Chief Deputy Dale Rogers said the family of 7-year-old Fred Hartpence was camping there. The kids went swimming and ran into trouble, Rogers said the father tried to pull the children out of the water but couldn’t reach Fred. A dive team recovered his body just after 7 p.m.

The campers at Mack’s Creek Park heard about the tragedy.

“It was pretty scary, we prayed for him too and stuff,” said Jayden.

“And we talked about being safe and making sure you are not in the water or by the water by yourself,” said Dudunake.

This type of tragedy also struck Mason Goldberg’s family.  He wandered away from his family at a neighborhood gathering in Star on July 10, and after hours of search his body was recovered in a pond behind the home.

Now Mason's family is on a mission to make sure all kids know how to swim. They will hold a benefit this month to fund swim lessons at the Treasure Valley YMCA.

“They all need to learn how to be safe around the water and hopefully we can prevent these things,” said Jim Everett, the CEO of the Treasure Valley YMCA.

The statistics are shocking.  Everett says that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among our youth in the United States. Idaho has ranked from 2nd to 4th worst in the nation for drowning rates per capita.

Everett believes we should teach children to respect water.

“The key is not to tell people to stay away from the water, have a healthy respect for water, know what to do and learn those life saving skills, one of which is just basic swimming skills,” said Everett.

At the City Light camp, it is Ashley Dudunake’s job to make sure kids know the skills.

"Most of our kids are great swimmers because that is one of the things we have done in the summer program,” she said. “We just want to make sure that all of our kids are really safe we can have a good time and we make sure that we can back with all of them.”

Everett said parents shouldn’t worry about not being able to afford swimming lessons at the Treasure Valley YMCA, because scholarships are available. In fact, that is what the family of Mason Goldberg is trying to help with.

On August 16 at Hannah’s in downtown Boise, there will be A Fundraiser for the Mason Goldberg Foundation, and all the proceeds will go to funding swimming lessons and the YMCA.

Mason’s family is initiating a campaign of water awareness and safety with the goal of providing water safety instruction and swimming lessons locally for those who are unable to afford these programs on their own.

There is a silent auction that will start at 7 p.m. and various music performances will continue through the night.

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