I am a personal injury lawyer born and raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA, and I love swimming. As schools let out and summer hits full stride, many will flock to the beaches, rivers, and pools to enjoy some fun in the sun. Boating, tubing, sailing, swimming, surfing, kayaking, and fishing are enjoyed by thousands of locals and tourists alike in Virginia Beach, Virginia each season. Yet as we all plan our upcoming weekend and vacation activities, it is important that we appreciate and prepare for the inherent dangers that may accompany these pastimes.
Sadly, several deadly water-related incidents have already occurred within the last month. As reported by the Daily Press, seven unfortunate souls have lost their lives in the waters of Hampton roads, Virginia (VA), and surrounding areas since May 12. On that day, two NASA assistants died after a sailboat capsized on the James River between Isle of Wight and Newport News.
On May 21, a Williamsburg man drowned on 34th Street at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront while attempting to save two teenage swimmers in a rip current. On May 27, a Hampton man’s death was declared a drowning after his body was found floating near Huntington Beach.
On May 30, a North Carolina (NC) native who was fishing with friends drowned in the James River near Deep Creek when he jumped in from their 22-foot sailing vessel to save a friend caught in a current. On June 1, a 9 year-old boy drowned at the Virginia Beach oceanfront when he was caught in a rip current at 21st Street And on June 4, a 20 year-old man drowned in Virginia Beach’s Lake Christopher while canoeing with friends.
As a Virginia Beach, VA, wrongful death and personal injury lawyer, I have encountered many tragic cases where aquatic enjoyment quickly turned into a nightmare. My heart goes out to the friends and family of these victims. Oftentimes, these deaths could have been prevented by the use of care and adherence to safety techniques.
A few key tips that I have learned through my experience can help you and your family enjoy your summer water activities safely. When on any type of watercraft, engine-powered or not, always wear a life preserver. Even the best of swimmers are prone to mishaps that may leave a boater unconscious in the water. Second, always keep a phone on the boat, on shore, or at the pool; the ability to quickly call for emergency assistance is crucial. Third, always choose a pool or beach that has a lifeguard, if possible. Rescuers are trained to spot dangerous conditions, save swimmers in distress, and give first aid should illness or injury occur.
Finally, use extreme caution when swimming in the ocean, as rip currents can form unexpectedly and pull swimmers away from shore. A rip current is a narrow channel of water that moves away from shore due to the uneven ocean floor near the shoreline. Each year, rip currents are responsible for more than 100 deaths in the United States. If caught in a rip, swim parallel to shore rather than straight in. Once you no longer feel as if you are being pulled away, you may swim back to shore.