As warm weather returns, one mother hopes her tragic story will help save people from drowning

As warm weather returns to Western Washington, one mom hopes her tragic story about the death of her 18-year-old son will save lives.

About five years ago, Janice O’Neal saw her son for the last time.

She says it happened on July 4th. Her 18-year-old son, Rashawn Hale-Moody, just graduated from Gates High School. O’Neal says her son went swimming with some of his friends.

“He was a fish out of water. That was his favorite thing to do, to swim. So I didn’t worry about him at all going with his friends up there,” said O’Neal.

She says it wasn’t his ability to swim, but the cold water temperatures that caused him to drown.

“What I know now about water, I probably would have never let him go by the water,” she said.

Unfortunately, O’Neal’s story is one that families deal with every year.

“Whether it’s a swimming pool, lake, or river there is potential danger, “ said Captain Kyle Ohashi with Puget Sound Fire.

Ohashi says this spring and summer, keep yourself safe in the water by staying smart with these tips:

  • Wear a life jacket
  • Watch children
  • Stay within your comfort zone
  • Do not drink and swim

It’s been about five years since O’Neal lost her son. She says time does not make telling her story any easier, but she chooses to tell it as often as possible for a reason.

“I believe Shawn would want me to try and save as many lives as possible. If you don’t tell your story, people will never know,” she said.

She says she hopes spreading her story and message will help any other families from dealing with the pains her family has to deal with.

For more water safety tips click here.

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