COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A 3-day-search in Lee County came to a heartbreaking conclusion after a father’s body was recovered from Lake Harding. Following the tragedy, several Columbus agencies are teaming up to keep families safe this summer. 

Piedmont Columbus Regional and SafeKids Columbus are spearheading an event called “River Savvy Kids” on Sat., May 14 to get families prepared for a safe summer out on the water. They will give away over 600 life jackets to kids 17 and under. The event will be in Uptown Columbus at the 14th Street Pedestrian Bridge. One life jacket will be given per child while supplies last. 

They are partnering with agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and the Columbus Police Department to make sure families are well-equipped for the boating and swimming season. 

Tragedies on the water can happen to anyone, no matter how strong of a swimmer you are. These free life jackets can be a way to avoid a tragedy before it happens. 

“I think we look at those tragedies and know what the families must be going through and our hearts break for these families,” Pam Fair, Director of SafeKids Columbus, said. “To lose a person in your family, whether it’s an adult or a child to drowning… It’s just horrific. We know families are hurting when that happens.”

This summer, SafeKids Columbus is also expanding life jacket loaner stations. These stations are on boat ramps, right before people bring their boats into the water. 

As of now they have four stations in Georgia and Alabama, but this summer they are increasing that number to seven. This way, families have no excuse to forget to put on a life jacket. 

“Our goal is to work to try to prevent this so we can enjoy the river,” Fair said. “We can have a good summer but then also understand the importance of understanding our river, respecting our river and having and owning that life jacket for every child to go out and have fun this summer.”