When Russell and Angela Reddick lost their 6-year old daughter, Kira, in a tragic drowning accident in 2004, they did not know where to turn for support and guidance. Angela discovered a wealth of practical information and compassion on the Drowning Support Network (DSN), an all-volunteer, online peer support group, sponsored by a small nonprofit organization, the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund. “The Drowning Support Network was there for us when we really needed help,” says Angela Reddick. “It’s is an amazing source of information for families who have lost loved ones to drowning. In addition to support, we were encouraged to educate ourselves about our grief, drowning awareness and prevention, and how to help others.”
In honor of Kira, Russell Reddick is heading out on Sunday morning, September 7, 2013, on a 10,000 mile motorcycle journey to the four-corners of the USA. Russ is riding his 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, “The fastest street-legal motorcycle in the world,” he says. Along the way, he will meet with members of DSN, participate in water safety and drowning prevention events hosted by public safety agencies, and raise funds for the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund, which sponsors the annual Higgins & Langley Memorial Awards in Swiftwater Rescue, in addition to DSN and other education programs.
Angela Reddick has helped her husband chart his “four corners” course. “This is not the famous ‘Four Corners’ of the Southwest, where you can stand in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona at one time,” Angela explains. “It’s the four corners of the lower 48 states in the USA. Russ is starting in Casper. Then he’s heading to the first ‘corner’ in the Northwest, Blaine, Washington. The second ‘corner’ is San Diego, California. The third ‘corner’ is Key West, Florida. And the fourth ‘corner’ is Madawaska, Maine. He will then head back home to Casper, Wyoming. We estimate the total journey to be about 10,000 miles.”
Russ adds, soberly, “According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 10-12 people drown per day in the United States. Worldwide, over 500,000 drown every year. And this number doesn’t include boating fatalities, floods, hurricanes, or tsunamis. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children age four and younger. And it’s the second leading cause of accidental death in kids 14 and younger.” Russ notes that drowning is “a silent epidemic, and we all need to do so much more to reduce the death toll,” adding that, for the most part, “drowning is preventable. But it’s fast, and unlike in Hollywood, where ‘victims’ flail around screaming for help, people often drown before anyone notices they are in trouble.”
If a victim is rescued and resuscitated, Russ explains that survivors may end up with severe brain injuries. “Over 50% of drowning victims need hospitalization,” Russ says. “Near drowning, or ‘nonfatal drowning’ survivors, as the medical experts call it, can suffer with life-long disabilities. Angela and I don’t wish ‘fatal’ or ‘non-fatal’ drowning on any other family. That’s why I’m heading on the road and speaking out.”
To track Russell’s journey, a link is posted on the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education website.
The Higgins & Langley Memorial Awards were established in 1993 by the National Association for Search and Rescue Swiftwater Rescue Committee in honor of Earl Higgins, a writer and filmmaker, who lost his life to drowning in 1980 while rescuing a child who was swept down the Los Angeles River, and Los Angeles County Firefighter Paramedic Jeffrey Langley, a pioneer in swiftwater and flood rescue who lost his life in a helicopter incident in 1993. In 1995, online educational and networking resources were launched, including the Swiftwater Rescue News and the Drowning Support Network. In 2002, the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund received 501(c)3 nonprofit certification.
“We wish Russell Reddick a safe journey,” says Nancy Rigg, Founder and Moderator of the Drowning Support Network. The death of Rigg’s fiancé, Earl Higgins, in 1980 inspired her to launch DSN. “I was totally isolated when Earl was swept away,” Rigg says. “He was missing for nine long months before his body was finally recovered. I really could have used more support and practical information at that time.” Rigg notes that drowning is a year-round threat. “The more we can all speak out, work together, and discuss water safety issues, the fewer lives will be lost.”
Russell Reddick’s 10,000 Mile Journey:
10,000 Mile Journey Map: http://tinyurl.com/m3qth6y
CDC Water-related Injury Fact Sheet:
Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund:
Drowning Support Network (DSN):
Peer Support: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DrowningSupportNetwork
General Information: https://www.facebook.com/DrowningSupportNetwork
Keep Our Loved Ones from Drowning:
DSN Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrowningSupport