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In this file photo from 2012, Beechgrove, Tenn., residents Michael Jernigan and his son, Wayne, then 7, fish at Normandy Lake in Coffee County. A Vanderbilt University freshman drowned in the lake on Thursday around 7 p.m. CDT, according to the Tennessean.

Swimming safety

The American Red Cross offers these important swimming safety tips people should be aware of before heading for the pool or beach:

› Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards

› Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone

› Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water

› Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone

› Maintain constant supervision

› Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses

› If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time

› Avoid distractions when supervising children around water

› If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability

› Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit

› Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number

› Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies

› Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15

› Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them

Source: American Red Cross

A Vanderbilt University baseball pitcher is likely the latest drowning victim in Tennessee, his death marking the end of the first week of summer break with tragedy.

 

Authorities said Donny Everett, 19, drowned on Normandy Lake in Coffee County, Tenn., Thursday evening while spending the day on the water with two friends and two teammates.

The four companions said their friend and another person were on the west side of Fire Lake Bridge when Everett got in the water and tried to swim east across the lake. Everett got halfway and began asking for help, according to the Coffee County Sheriff's Office in Manchester.

Everett's friends thought he was "just joking around" at first, according to the sheriff's office statement. One friend reached Everett and pulled him several feet but also was struggling to stay on the surface. He released Everett to head back toward shore, still thinking Everett was "joking," officials said.

But when the friend looked back, Everett was gone. His body was recovered a short time later and has been sent to Nashville for an autopsy, officials said.

Everett had just finished his freshman year. He was one of the nation's top high school pitchers while starring at Clarksville High, according to reports in The Tennessean.

Everett is the second Vanderbilt student-athlete to drown in just over a year. In May 2015, former Vanderbilt basketball player Dai-Jon Parker, 22, drowned in Indianapolis.

With summer break just a few days old, drowning incidents already are being reported in the tri-state region.

In Athens, Tenn., authorities say 19-year-old Englewood resident George Wesley Rogers IV drowned May 29 after he got too far from shore on Fort Loudon Lake in Loudon County while swimming with friends, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

A 14-year-old boy drowned at a rock quarry in Newport on May 29. Cocke County officials said Tyler Sisk and a friend were walking in knee-deep water with low visibility when they fell into a deeper section and went under, according to Associated Press reports.

Also on May 29, Illinois resident Josh William Grunder, 39, drowned after he jumped off the cliff at Martha's Falls in the Little River Canyon National Preserve in DeKalb County, Ala., according to the Gadsden Times.

On April 15, Baylor School graduate Kelley Bennett Smith was killed when a rogue wave on the Oregon coast swept him out to sea. He was the son of a well-known Erlanger doctor, Bill Moore Smith.

Some drownings are associated with boating and watercraft accidents.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokeswoman Mime Barnes said boaters should pay special attention to safety rules. In 2014, there were 17 fatal accidents, seven of them involving falls overboard. There were 67 incidents that resulted in 80 injuries, TWRA records show. Most injuries came from collisions between vessels.

A report on boating accidents for 2015 isn't complete but "I know there were 14 boating-related deaths in 2015," Barnes said. "I've been told the outcome would be greatly different if boaters had been wearing their personal flotation devices."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or twitter.com/BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.

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