Family shares near-drowning story to warn others of dangers - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Family shares near-drowning story to warn others of dangers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Accidental drowning is the number one non-medical cause of death for children ages 1 to 5. It's also  the reason the Gatewood and Carico families have a deep friendship, that started at a swimming party over Memorial Day weekend.

"I saw someone pointing, so I went in the general direction. I didn't even see her at first because she was under the water, and then I looked down and saw her," said 14-year-old Ravyn Carico.

"It's a friendship that will be forever, for a lifetime," said Eunice Gatewood, whose granddaughter drowned.

Ravyn's little sister Autumn and her friend Kyra were playing in a pool when Kyra began to sink.

"I saw bubbles coming out and me and my friend, we were walking by and we thought she was using it to breathe, and then I saw someone screaming to get her out," said Autumn Carico, who witnessed the drowning.

Ravyn jumped in and, with the help of her parents, pulled Kyra out of the water, lifeless.

"There was foam everywhere on her mouth, and I was holding her while my mom came over, and pulled her out," said Autumn.

"That's what was going through my head is, stay calm, stay calm, stay calm," Ravyn said. She performed CPR while someone else at the party called 911. Kyra's grandmother arrived when the ambulance did.

"I found myself just beating the steering wheel saying God please, please, please save my granddaughter. Spare her life," said Eunice.

"You always suspect it'll be someone else, it's never gonna be you. You see it in the movies, you see news things like this, and you don't think it's gonna be you," added Rayvn. Thanks to her quick thinking, Kyra is alive today.

"She saved my life," Kyra said. 

Sadly, so many other children aren't so fortunate. More than 730 children die from drowning each year in the U.S. For every child who dies, another five end up in emergency rooms and though media reports and movies make us think drowning is easy to spot, that is not typically the case.

"It's not like you see on the movies where often times they are throwing their hands in the air so you really need to be diligent," said aquatics manager Christopher Turner.

In fact, Kyra quietly slipped beneath the surface and sank to the bottom of the pool before anyone noticed, the most common way drownings happen.

"It's not dramatic, it's silent and deadly," said lifeguard Rick Ellis.

In most cases, the only signs of drowning happen below the water, not above.

"You're gonna be vertical in the water and your head's gonna be bobbing up and down slightly. So, they lose energy as an active drowner because they're distressed in the water -- vertical like that and they sink and they become a passive drowner," said Turner. "Passive drowning is where you're down, you go under and you're essentially lifeless as you go in."

If someone's in trouble you may not hear actual screams for help. So be on guard, scanning the water, and constantly checking back in on your family if your at a backyard pool.

"Families no longer need to pass along the fear of the water. They can get involved. They can learn, their children can learn, and generation after generation after generation, they will have the opportunity then to enjoy the water that's around them," added Ellis.

And to enjoy the time they still have together, like the Gatewoods and Caricos, after a life-altering weekend at the pool.

"I thought it'd never be me," said Ravyn.

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