Phoenix/ Community & Society
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Published on May 27, 2024
Phoenix Mothers Champion Drowning Prevention Following Their Children's Fatal AccidentsSource: Unsplash/ Jonathan Borba

In a grim reflection of the escalating number of fatal child drownings in Phoenix this year, two Arizona mothers, Lindsey Black and Ashley Ackerman, have each taken on the harrowing mission of drowning prevention, driven by their own devastating experiences. Lindsey Black's world was upended in 2006, when her nearly 2-year-old son fell into a babysitter's pool, resulting in severe brain damage from which he ultimately passed away seven years later. Ashley Ackerman's son, Braxton, an adventurous 4-year-old with a love for trucks and superheroes, drowned in March 2022 after slipping through a pool fence, according to a report by FOX 10 Phoenix and Hoodline.

The tragedies underscore a larger, distressing trend in the region, with the Phoenix metro area reporting 18 near-drowning incidents and six fatalities involving children since January. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention names drowning as the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. "I got a phone call that something happened," Black told FOX 10 Phoenix, remembering the fateful day her life changed.

Ackerman is championing what she calls "layers of protection," which include self-latching gates, direct and constant supervision, CPR readiness, and water safety education. "When you bundle them together, and you realize the more you have, the safer you are," Ackerman told Hoodline. She wishes she had fully understood these safety measures before the accident that took her son's life.

In her efforts to prevent other families from suffering similar losses, Black is advocating for vigilant supervision and barrier installation around pools, while Ackerman has established the Swim4Braxton foundation to fundraise for swim lessons and pool fences for other families. Ackerman also recalls, with heart-wrenching honesty, the absence of her son during spring break, "recalling performing CPR, and pleading with doctors in the hospital to save her child," a memory that now spurs her advocacy work. Ackerman's community involvement includes organizing a memorial 5K and partnering with local businesses to support her cause, as she told Hoodline.

As the summer season approaches, and pools become a mainstay for family recreation, the crusades led by these mothers offer a somber reminder of the importance of diligent pool safety and the unspeakable cost of its absence. Further resources and tips on drowning prevention are available through the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona.