Carmen Johnson was only fifteen years old when a tragic swimming incident took her life. Now, Carmen’s family hopes to raise awareness so that nothing like this happens to anyone else ever again.
While swimming and playing in the lake behind the Johnson home in Alabama, Carmen began to drown. She knew how to swim perfectly well, nothing was grabbing her, nothing was pulling her, but Carmen was unable to move. When her father Jimmy tried to save her, there was nothing he could do.
“I was in a position where I could have saved her, if it would have been anything but electrocution in the water,” said Carmen’s father. “It was instant. It just grabbed hold of me.”
This tragic accident is not uncommon either. It is called shock drowning and it occurs when a current is spread through a body of water. In many cases, including this one, it is caused by short circuit wiring either from a boat in the water or from the actual dock. The current in the lake then electrocutes anyone in the water, leaving them unable to move and ultimately causing them to drown.
Carmen’s brother Zach can confirm this first hand. After jumping in to save their sister, the boys too almost died, but luckily the main power switch was turned off in time to save them. Zack had this to say on the feeling of shock drowning,
“It felt like your arm or leg is asleep and it hurts to move, and you can’t move, but it’s your entire body. And you’re trying to tread water but can’t swim.”
It is a terrifying thought, as if drowning was not bad enough.
Now, in the name of their daughter, the Johnson’s are hoping to spread awareness of this dangerous phenomenon and bring about change in safety standards. As of right now, there is no law requiring inspections of faulty electrical lines in the water. The Johnson family hopes that their story will change this.
There are other things you can do to prevent this as well. Experts suggest that you inspect your pools, boats, and docks at least once a year for faulty wiring. Also, there are “shock alarms” and other products that sit in the water and give you a warning if there is any electrical current flowing.
Make sure to take all of the extra precautions you need. We all want to dive head first into summer, but safety should be important above all else. Share the Johnson family’s tragic story and help save a life!