Ensuring a safe summer

Friday , July 13, 2018 - 12:00 AM

Summer is meant to be a time for family, friends, fun and relaxing. However, as several recent events have shown, it also can quickly turn into a time of tragedy, which is why safety must be paramount in all outdoor activities.

On Wednesday, authorities recovered the body of Weber School District teacher Brandon Larsen, 46, who had been missing since Sunday after a day of paddleboarding at Willard Bay State Park.

Authorities said Larsen was not wearing a life jacket.

“Brandon was a father, brother, son, uncle, veteran, and teacher. The loss of him from our lives is indescribable,” Larsen’s family said in a statement. “Brandon’s death was a tragic accident and we would like privacy at this time to mourn the loss of him.”

Larsen served as a business instructor at Sand Ridge Junior High School in Roy for 10 years before he moved to Weber Innovation High School in 2016.

Another tragedy took place last week when 16-year-old Alpine teen Cole Merrill died after jumping off a Lehi bridge into the Jordan River. And in June, 16-year-old Kaylee Marvin died after slipping and falling 60 to 100 feet from a waterfall in Santaquin Canyon.

Sometimes, even when all precautions are taken, tragedy still happens. Take, for example, the death of a Florida kayaker on the Provo River on July 3 who was wearing a life jacket but was swept under the truss of a bridge by a strong current and drowned.

According to the CDC, nearly 80 percent of people who die from drowning are male. While our attention is rightfully directed towards the safety of our little ones around bodies of water, in fact more than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings are those ages 15 and older.

While more experienced than our children, we must remember that age does not necessarily provide immunity when it comes to safety-related accidents.

This summer has been a season of tragic accidents. We echo the sentiments made by Utah County Sheriff’s Office authorities after the death of Ms. Marvin.

“It’s a good time to say, we want people to enjoy the outdoors, and Santaquin Canyon is a beautiful area. As are all of our local canyons. But please have safeguards in place and please be careful while you’re hiking. One misstep can lead to a tragedy like today, and we don’t want to see that happen to anyone else.”

Wear life jackets. Notify your loved ones where you are going. Regardless of age, set time frames for when you should be expected home.

Our sympathies are with these families who now mourn the loss of their loved ones.

We hope residents and cities will exercise extra precautions, when available, during the remainder of the summer so that they too will not be faced with mourning the untimely death of another bright life.

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