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Families more wary in the water after two drownings in West Point Lake

TROUP COUNTY, Ga. -- Many folks may have the day off for Labor Day, and most have fun on their minds. But one Georgia family is stressing water safety, less than 24 hours after two children drowned in West Point Lake.

Troup County officials say a boy and a girl, both aged 12, went into the water at Earl Cook Beach at West Point Lake Sunday afternoon. It took crews about three hours to find the children's bodies. Officials tell News 3 the two children were not wearing life jackets. They add this is the third death in West Point Lake in 2017.

The soothing sounds of bodies of water like West Point Lake can easily lull someone to relax and enjoy themselves on Labor Day. But one mistake could mean disaster and a tragic end to the fun, and one's life. Deanna Johnson and her family visited West Point Lake for Labor Day with safety at the forefront of their fun.

"It's tragic that that happened and it's really sad," Deanna said. "I mean, they would have been safe if they were wearing life jackets. We go to the lake a lot with the kayaks and just swim around. Whenever we're swimming, I just want to take [my life jacket] off. In the kayaks, I understand to keep your life jacket on, just in case we're too far out."

Deanna's father Jerry preaches safety every time his family heads into the water. He says taking care of three teens can bring the unpredictable. But Johnson tells News 3 the unfamiliar territory can cause the unexpected.

"It happens all the time," Johnson said. "All it takes is for you to slip and bump your head on the kayak, knock yourself out. You may be the best swimmer in the world. But if you knock yourself out, you're done for."

Johnson calls Sunday's drownings tragic, and he says processing an unfortunate event like that could take years for the family who lost two children.

"You just have to exercise extreme caution," Johnson warned.

He says accountability keeps his family safe in the water. It's a message that clicks with the Johnson's: life jackets are the first priority before getting in the water.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency stepped up patrols throughout the Labor Day Weekend to ensure safety. First and foremost, they urge people to wear a personal flotation device near any body of water. Avoid operating boats or water vessels while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Beware of rapid currents and slippery surfaces, and remember to have a person nearby who can help in case of emergency.

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