Mother whose daughter drowned is working to save other kids

- Two more Houston area children drowned over the weekend.  For one local mom that headline hits painfully close to home. She is now doing everything she can to prevent drownings after tragically losing own daughter.

We've heard the statistics, 60 percent of drownings happen about 10 feet from the edge of a pool, just 10 feet from safety, but maybe you haven't heard from Deonesia Grays, a Houston mom whose daughter drowned at a Memorial Day pool party.  It's now her mission to pay for swim lessons for kids since her daughter, 4-year-old Bria, drowned in a southwest Houston apartment pool at a holiday gathering.

"The adult that was down there with the kids had turned her back to get a smaller child and my daughter jumped in and that was her first and last time ever going swimming,” Grays explains.

So when Grays heard about the weekend drownings of a 12-year-old girl in the San Jacinto River, who was trying to save her mother, and a 10-year-old boy in a neighborhood pool in Fort Bend County, her heart broke for the parents who she says will now grieve like they never have before.  "First you have to get over the fact that your child is not there.  Then there’s guilt."

Thanks to Grays, dozens of kids and their parents have learned to swim.  Most of the lessons take place at Houston area YMCA’s.  

"Really you can never start too young.  At the YMCA we start (swim lessons) at 6 months old,” explains Houston YMCA Aquatics Director Candi Revere.

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, kids are more likely to drown in the summer. "And drowning is not like what you see in the movies where there’s hand waving and it’s all crazy.  It’s very silent.  It happens quickly,” adds Revere.

Revere says learning a few simple safety tips can mean the difference between life and death. For instance, she says if someone is in trouble in the water, throw them a flotation device instead of jumping in after them. "Especially if you can’t swim,” Revere explains.  

Grays reminds us her free swimming lessons and CPR training are extra layers of protection and should not take place of proper adult supervision.

“There’s still the matter of watching your kids.  Just because they know how to swim, doesn’t mean they can’t drown,” says Grays.

More than 35 kids have drowned in Texas this year. Revere says make sure kids are in the habit of asking for permission before they get in the water.

To receive Grays' free swimming lessons or complimentary classes for parents to become CPR certified visit www.briashouse.net.

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