Alarming Increase in IE Drownings

Ysenia Barajas is already training her toddler to swim. But she knows it will be a long time before she can leave him near the water unattended.

"I have to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't drown on me," she said.

Sweltering inland weather has brought Ysenia to one of San Bernardino's city pools every afternoon lately. But after learning about a big jump in near drownings this summer, the young mother has taken extra precaution around water.

Drownings in San Bernardino remain one of the leading causes of death for children under the age of 14.

But this year, it's not just kids who are suffering. Monday, a 22-year-old man nearly drowned at Raging Waters in San Dimas. Authorities think he may have had a seizure and slipped under water.

"The lifeguards found him floating face down in what they call the lagoon," said firefighter Herbert Johnson of the L.A. County Fire Department.

Southern California now has the highest rate of near drownings in the entire state.

Riverside County has already recorded seven drownings and 14 near-drownings this summer alone. Most of the victims were children.

Neighboring San Bernardino County has recorded four water fatalities and 14 near fatal mishaps involving pools, lakes or rivers.

"The numbers are unfortunately going to go up," said Tracey Martinez of the San Bernardino County Fire Department. "That's why we need to get the message out for adult supervision at all times."

Martinez said adults are often victims for different reasons.

"Most of them drowned during incidents where they were playing in lakes or rivers or drinking or doing other types of illegal activities," Martinez said.

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