Grieving mother offers pool safety advice after Mother's Day tragedy

Lubbock mother leads drowning prevention effort
Updated: May. 31, 2018 at 6:49 PM CDT
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Source: KCBD Video
Source: KCBD Video
Source: KCBD Video
Source: KCBD Video

(KCBD) - During the hot weather, many are taking to the pool to cool off, but without care, a fun day can quickly turn to tragedy.

Now one mother is making sure no one has to go through the same thing, after she lost her daughter.

"When I couldn't find her that day in that pool, I never thought to look in the water," Tori Welch said. "I looked in my niece's bedroom where there's baby dolls and toys, I looked in the potty, and then finally I looked in the water."

On Mother's Day, one year ago, Tori's life changed forever.

"She was four years old. We adopted her through foster care several years ago, and she's just a little mother, a little nurturer. It's just hard. It's been a year, but it's only been a year. My job was to protect her and I wasn't able to."

Shaelynn was only four years old when she drowned during her family's party.

Welch says, "We had multiple kids in the pool that day, multiple family members. The adults were in the pool, they had life vests on, my kids always have their life vest on. So they were very good life jacket kids, and I let my guard down. Hers was taken off of her, and I did not know that it was, and she slipped back into the pool when I wasn't watching."

Now Tori says that she is doing what she can to help make sure no one has to go through the same thing.

"It's been so horrible, that I want something to come out of this. I don't want another mama to have to bury a child like this. Her drowning could have been prevented, should have been prevented and so, if more parents can be educated on watching their child like a lifeguard would, then we can prevent more drownings."

She decided to volunteer with 'Lifeguard Your Child', an organization aimed at educating parents and guardians on pool safety.

Tori agrees that, "Swim lessons are great, life jackets are great, the infant swimming resource class is amazing. I totally support all of those, but there's just no better prevention than to watch your child yourself. Nothing else will save them but you."

Chris Gonzales, the Aquatic Director at the YWCA in Lubbock agrees, "It's always important you keep an eye on your child so we can never have to many eyes on the pool. Supervision is very, very critical."

"Especially this time of the year, there's lots of postings on social media," Welch says. "Lots of postings of mamas in lawn chairs while their kids are swimming and I'm like 'Get up! Go sit by the pool!' and I beg them. 'Please! Go sit by the pool, get in the pool. Have you arms within arm's reach of them. Don't take your eyes off. It takes a second."

But she says, it's not just children you should keep an eye out for.

"Just the other day I heard a story of a professional swimmer, a teenager, swam competitively, drowned at the bottom of their pool while they were at practicing.  Even swimmers can drown. Even lifeguards can have a problem and drown. You have to watch them all, and if there's an adult next to you in the water struggling, just be vigilant to that."

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