It’s been nearly three years since country music star Granger Smith and his wife, Amber Bartlett, lost their son River, 3, to a drowning accident. Now the couple advocate for children’s water safety.
In a video posted to Smith’s Instagram last week, River’s 8-month-old brother, Maverick, is seen taking infant self-rescue swimming lessons with an Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) instructor.
“He’s in full clothes and a diaper. He can barely crawl, but now he knows how to hold his breath, twist his body, find the air, float on his back and cry,” the singer, 42, wrote. “He can do this falling in head first, feet first or any orientation. He has the skills to float until the help comes.”
“Drowning is the #1 accidental death of children age 4 and under,” Smith continued. “Thinking that adult supervision is enough is an absolutely DEADLY miscalculation. Hear me. I used to think that too.”
He also encouraged parents to install safety fences and pool alarms and to use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in open water.
In his caption, Smith noted that Amber is the one who accompanies Maverick to swim lessons.
“I could not attend these classes because of my own vulnerabilities,” Smith revealed. “But @amberemilysmith is an absolute rockstar and feels an obligation to the public to share this message. Spread the word. River’s life mattered. He’s saving thousands of others. Hear me.”
Granger and Amber opened up to TODAY in 2020 about River’s tragic drowning death.
“I was 20 feet away,” Granger recalled. “I was playing gymnastics with my daughter. He was outside of the locked gate with our other son. There wasn’t music playing; there wasn’t any kind of distractions. It was just a quiet, 7 p.m. summer evening. It was so silent. There wasn’t a splash; there wasn’t any kind of call for help. I just saw him. I turned around, and I saw him.”
Amber reiterated that drowning isn’t noisy.
“It’s just so fast, and it’s so quiet,” she said. “It’s not like you see in the movies, splashing around. It’s just silent.”
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are nearly 300 drowning deaths of children younger than 5 each year in swimming pools, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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