Grieving mother warns of dangers of swimming in natural waters

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The CDC reports that more than half of fatal and non-fatal drownings among people 15 years and older occur in natural waters.

It’s amazing how something so calm and peaceful can be so rough and potentially deadly underneath.

May 18, just before the unofficial start of summer, Tavya Hall got the call no mother ever wants to get.

Her 20-year-old son Roderick Morton Jr. got caught in an undercurrent and drowned in a lake in DeSoto County.

“He was very loving, caring, family-oriented person. He was very fun. He was athletic. He was a swimmer, self-taught,” said Hall.

That’s what Hall wants parents and kids to know, being self-taught and professionally trained to swim is different, especially in natural waters.

“Make sure your kids really know fundamentals of swimming. First of all, if you can make sure they have a life jacket on if they are not good swimmers, even if they are good because the best of the best this can happen too,” Hall said.

The National Park Service warns swimmers in natural waters--like rivers and lakes--distance can be deceptive.

Waters can look calm on the surface but move faster underneath.

If you get caught in a rip current, experts suggest to not fight the current and swim parallel to shore.

Every year tragedies like Morton’s happen.

Early last month, 26-year-old Margarito Cruz Martinez drowned in the Wolf River.

In late April, a 15-year-old died after being discovered submerged in an apartment complex pool near Winchester and Knight Arnold.

Ironically, Hall knew that teen because it was her cousin.

About a month later she buried her own son, dying from the same fate in just a different body of water.

“The parents may just send kids out there to the pool, so we just need to take that responsibility if they want to go near the water. It’s fun, but it’s dangerous,” said Hall.

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