Phoenix/ Community & Society
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Published on May 13, 2024
Arizona Mother Champions Pool Safety Crusade in Phoenix After Son's Tragic DrowningSource: Swim 4 Braxton

An Arizona mother is turning her personal tragedy into a tireless campaign for pool safety, after the drowning of her young son in a backyard pool highlighted a chilling spike in such incidents across the region. Ashley Ackerman, who lost her 4-year-old son Braxton in March of 2022, is advocating for increased awareness and preventative measures to avert further tragedies – an effort that, according to ABC15, comes as the Phoenix metro area reports a disturbing trend of 18 near-drowning incidents and six fatalities involving children since the beginning of 2024.

Ackerman describes her son as an adventurous spirit, enamored with trucks and superheroes, who tragically slipped through a secured pool fence days after celebrating his fourth birthday; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, Ackerman now partners with Pinal County to spread the message, she said she wishes she had understood the significance of "layers of protection" prior to her loss as reported by ABC15.

The "layers of protection" Ackerman champions include measures such as self-latching gates, direct and constant supervision, CPR readiness, and education on water safety. "When you bundle them together, and you realize the more you have, the safer you are," Ackerman told ABC15, suggesting that though no safety system is infallible, preparedness can alter perspectives and save lives.

Sharing her story with heartbreaking candidness, Ackerman confided in an interview with 12news the memory of her son's absence in their home during spring break, recalling performing CPR, and pleading with doctors in the hospital to save her child, the ordeal has become an eternal reminder of loss for her.

Through her foundation, Swim4Braxton, Ackerman has taken concrete steps towards drowning prevention by funding swim lessons and pool fence installations for families, additionally, 12news reports that Ackerman rallied the community through the "Super 'B-Dog' Memorial 5K and Walk” and a partnership with Backyard Taco to raise funds for her cause.