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Local first responders urging water safety following deadly Memorial Day weekend

By Duncan MacLeanKristina D'Amours,


AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – A long holiday weekend to kick off the summer season turned deadly.

Body of missing jet skier located in Connecticut River

A 51-year-old Springfield man died after the jet ski he was piloting collided with a boat on the Connecticut River Sunday night. He was reported to be wearing a life vest. And a 17-year-old boy from Agawam, drowned in a swimming pool Monday night.

Teen drowns in Feeding Hills swimming pool

22News spoke with a local first responder about the increase in tragedies in bodies of water during the summer months.

“Water emergencies pick up, usually with that kickoff of Memorial Day Weekend,” said Lt. Anthony Spear with the West Springfield Fire Department. He explained, “A lot more people are out hitting the water, the more people you get out on the waterways, the more congested it becomes… the more dangerous it becomes.”

That uptick in these incidents at this time of the year has first responders urging people to take all safety measures to mitigate chances of injury or even death. And whether it’s in a pool or a natural body of water, they add parents should talk to their children about water safety.

According to data in 2021, there were 11 unintentional drowning deaths among children here in the state, ages 1 to 17.

“A nice day can turn tragic very quickly,” says Lt. Spear. “Pay attention to the children as they return to the yard. Even pay attention to adults. If you are having a party or a gathering, if you haven’t seen anyone in a while, it’s a good idea to check the pool.”

First responders recommend people should adhere to these safety measures:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or other water activities
  • Know the risks of natural waters that could have hidden hazards
  • Use the buddy system by asking someone to tag along for any kind of water recreation

Lt. Spear adds making sure you’re also up to date on knowing how to perform CPR because it could save a life.

If you are boating or swimming in a natural body of water, take time to familiarize yourself with the area and any hidden hazards, like deep or shallow spots, obscured obstacles, and fast-moving currents. Always swim, boat, or float with a partner, and always have a life jacket. Don’t count on inflatable toys or inner tubes in place of a Coast guard approved personal floatation device.

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