Man promotes drowning prevention after losing daughter

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by Katherine Cook, KGW staff

NWCN.com

Posted on September 12, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 12 at 10:15 PM

PORTLAND -- Russell Reddick is on a 10,000 mile motorcycle ride mission. He's promoting drowning prevention to the four corners of the country, while carrying the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, Kira, with him.

Kira drowned 9 years ago, during a swimming lesson, when her instructor turned their back.

"She never had a chance," said Reddick, who lives in Casper, Wyoming. "She never fully got to live life and I never want that to happen to anyone else."

Every year, 830 kids ages 14 and younger, die from accidental drowning, according to Safe Kids USA.

The Clackamas River is no exception.

"Drowning can happen within a blink of an eye," said Taneka Burwell-Means, AMR's River Rescue Program Specialist.

Several local agencies, including AMR, joined Reddick during a stop at Clackamette Park, Thursday.

"Right now I can actually see a parent that has their back turned to the child in the water," observed Sgt. Robert Wurpes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. "That is the instant when something could go wrong and it's a lifelong regret."

Burwell-Means said many adults ignore the key to drowning prevention on rivers.

"A life jacket will save your life," she said. "You don't have to be planning on swimming to need to wear a life jacket."

Along his journey, Reddick is trying to raise $10,000 for The Drowning Support Network, a group that helped his family cope, when Kira died.

"I wasn't the first person (a drowning death) happened to, and I won't be the last," said Reddick.

It's a sobering fact that keeps him fueled, for the long road ahead.

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