MADISON COUNY, Ky. (WKYT) - As families prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, one Madison County mom is sharing her family’s tragedy in hopes to save lives.
“There’s fear. There’s a lot of anxiety,” Kelly Prewitt said.
When Kelly Prewitt is near a large body of water, she faces a flood of emotions.
“Then I just have to kind of force myself to move past that and try to be in the moment,” Kelly said.
She says she instantly thinks of her son, Emanuel, who drowned last summer at Herrington Lake. He was 17 years old.
“I haven’t been in water since. I don’t know when I will,” Kelly said.
The emotions of a grieving mother who, this Fourth of July weekend, is opening up in hopes that her story will serve as a reminder for anyone going on the water to put on a life jacket.
“They’re here to have fun. They don’t think about accidents happening and the consequences of that. But if we can bring it to their attention, a little more loudly than what it is, hopefully they’ll stop and think,” Kelly said.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife says so far this year, there have been 29 deaths on Kentucky’s waters. That’s 29 families who now have felt the same emotions Kelly has for the last year.
“It’s an overwhelming sense of ‘I should have done better. I knew better.’ I know it’s not my fault, obviously, but if I had just maybe mentioned it to him one more time before he left. ‘Make sure you guys have life jackets on,’” Kelly said.
In response to such tragedies, and working to prevent more, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will be building life jacket kiosks at waterways across the state. One of the first will be at Lake Reba, a place Manny loved growing up.
“It absolutely brings joy to my heart knowing that hopefully this is going to make a difference for somebody in the future,” Kelly said.
Those kiosks will be stocked with different sizes of life jackets and instructions on how to properly put one on. They’ll also be available for borrowing at no cost—because you can’t put a cost on a life.
“We really have to be aware, and be cautious of what’s around us,” Kelly said.
Kelly says they’re planning to build a memorial for Manny near the kiosk at Lake Reba. She’s also in the early stages of establishing the Swim Smart Foundation to help fund other life jacket stands.
The forecast is looking great for the holiday weekend. A mom in Madison County is pleading with families to be safe on the water and wear a life jacket.
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