Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion and/or immersion in liquid. Outcomes of drowning are classified as death, morbidity, or no morbidity. According to the WHO, it’s the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for seven percent of all injury-related deaths. Annually, there’s an estimated 360,000 drowning deaths worldwide. These global estimates may underestimate the actual public health problem related to drowning.
People with increased access to water—especially males and children—face a higher risk of drowning. Moreover, the global burden from drowning can be found in all economies and regions. Low and middle income countries account for over 90 percent of unintentional drowning deaths. And more than half of the world’s drowning occurs in the Western Pacific Region and Southeast Asia Region. Not to mention, the death rates from drowning are highest in the African Region and are 15 to 20 times higher than those in Germany or the United Kingdom.
Several studies have revealed information on the cost impact of drowning. In the United States, 45 percent of drowning deaths are the most economically active segment of the population. Coastal drowning alone accounts for $273 million each year in direct and indirect costs. In Australia and Canada, the total annual cost of drowning deaths is US $85.5 million and US $173 million. In general, males are especially at risk of drowning and have twice the overall mortality rate of females. They’re more likely to be hospitalized than females for nonfatal drowning. If you can handle it, here’s a look at 15 of the most devastating deaths by drowning.
15. Twin Boys Drown In Backyard Pool
Suffolk County police confirmed the death of twin toddlers who died on July 26, 2017. The three-year-old boys drowned in their backyard pool in Long Island. A 911 call came in about 8:40 a.m. from a home on Holly Court in Melville. The boys were found in the family’s pool, which was filled with murky green water. The boys’ mother called police to say she found her son, Nicholas Aurilia, in the home’s in-ground pool. She pulled her child from the water only to find that he wasn’t breathing. The mother began CPR on Nicholas while telling 911 that the boy’s twin brother was missing. Officers responded and found the second child in the pool.
Both toddlers were taken to a hospital where they were pronounced dead. The boys’ deaths appear to be an accident. Detectives with the department’s homicide squad are investigating the tragic incident. Also, the Town of Huntington will assess whether the pool violated any town regulations, but it appeared that the property was in compliance.
14. Teenage Boy Jumps Off A Roof And Into A Lake
Demarcus White was the youngest of three children. He had just gotten promoted to the 11th grade, ran track and always spoke out in Sunday school classes. The 17-year-old Shreveport, Louisiana native was attending a youth church group outing and spending the summer with his biological father in Texas for the first time when, according to Texas game wardens, White jumped off the roof at a party and into Lake Lavon, an area lake just outside of Dallas, Texas. The victim’s mother was too shaken to speak, but the family’s pastor spoke to KTBS-3 investigative reporter Shon Gables. Pastor Bobby Washington said that the family questioned inconsistencies with the story and how White, who couldn’t swim, ended up in the water. Washington also claimed that Demarcus hated the water and may have been possibly left behind or even pushed into the water.
White, along with 19 other teens and two adults, went for the boat ride one Sunday afternoon. Life jackets were allegedly on the boat, but none of the teens were wearing them. The boat trip was sponsored by the Fellowship Church in Dallas.
13. Rescue Leads To Two Drowning Deaths
In a tragedy that haunted two families, a 20-year-old man fell or jumped into the Hudson River on Pier C in Hoboken, New Jersey on April 13, 2014, and after his 24-year-old friend jumped in to rescue him, both men drowned. Hoboken police and family members identified the men as Elias Serrano, 20, and Edwin Cruz Jr., 24.
New York Harbor Police pulled the bodies from the Hudson River at 7:55 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. The incident was first reported to Hoboken police at 5:35 a.m. Nine of Serrano’s siblings, and his mother received the devastating news at Hoboken police headquarters on Hudson Street that morning. The mother reportedly collapsed to the floor in grief and required oxygen, but was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Hoboken police officials said that the incident remained under investigation, but foul play wasn’t suspected.
12. Man Dies From Electric Shock Drowning
A 19-year-old man named Evan Currine died on June 17, 2017 after being shocked by an electric current in the water near his family’s boat at Put-In-Bay, Ohio. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Currie’s family docked their boat—a 33-foot Sea Ray Sundancer—at Miller Marina around 6:30 p.m. and plugged the shore power into the boat. A short time later, the dog fell into the water and began to struggle. The father, Jeffrey, jumped into the water and began to struggle as well. The two sons then jumped in to help. The mother was still on board as bystanders instructed her to unplug the shore power. As soon as she unplugged, the electrical current in the water stopped. Everyone got back on board but Evan was unresponsive and convulsing.
According to an ODNR spokesperson, Evan died at the scene. ODNR had an independent electrician investigate the dock Friday but found no problems with the dock. An inspection of the boat was performed on a later date.
11. Sunbather Falls Victim To Electric Shock Drowning
There’s a reason why electric shock drowning was mentioned again. They’re difficult to track. That’s why they’re known as silent killers. Even a low level of electric current in the water can be extremely hazardous (or fatal) to a swimmer, especially in freshwater, where experts say that the voltage will take a shortcut through the human body. There’s no visible warning (or way) to tell if water surrounding a boat, marina, or dock is energized or within seconds will become energized with fatal levels of electricity.
15-year-old Carmen Johnson died from electric shock drowning while swimming near her family’s Alabama lake house in April of 2016. Her parents spoke out about the rarely-reported phenomenon after it took the lives of two more local women in April of 2017. The two women, 34-year-old Shelly Darling and 41-year-old Elizabeth Whipple, went missing after sunbathing on Lake Tuscaloosa. Their bodies were eventually retrieved from the lake. Autopsies for the two victims showed the cause of death as electrocution.
10. Man Struggles To Stay Afloat While Being Recorded By Teens
In a graphic two-plus-minute video, five teen boys between the ages of 14 and 16 were heard laughing as a 31-year-old man named Jamel Dunn struggled to stay afloat in a pond near his family’s Cocoa, Florida home. Instead of calling for help, the teens recorded the incident on a cell phone, warned the man that he was going to die, and didn’t intend to help him. At one point, one of the teen boys laughed and said “he dead.”
The victim’s sister, Simone Scott, said that she received the video of her brother’s drowning after the deadly incident. She subsequently posted the video publicly on Facebook. Local police said that on the morning Dunn drowned, he got into a verbal altercation with his mother and possibly his fiancée. His fianceé left the home at 12:40 p.m. Based on the video, he went into the water at 12:50 p.m. and then drowned after struggling for 10 minutes. Despite the negative press, the teens who taunted the victim while filming his death from afar weren’t charged.
9. Wife Of Former Bachelorette Contestant Drowns In Bathtub
The Bachelorette has featured plenty of contestants with baggage, but never quite like one man vying for Ashley Hebert’s heart on Season 8. During its premiere, South Carolina-based prosecutor West Lee addressed losing the true love of his life in 2007 when his then-wife, Sarah Lee, drowned in the couple’s bathtub. West mentioned that she had mental health problems and a history of seizures. One day, she went and got in the bathtub, and he checked up on her, but found her face down in the tub so he pulled her out and called 911.
After a lengthy police investigation, Lee had nothing to do with his wife’s death, but the story’s rather complicated as there were allegations of drug use by both him and his wife. West was cleared, but Sarah’s mother, Dianna Sapp, struggled to believe it. According to the police report, Sarah’s death was caused by accidental fresh water drowning. West also admitted that he was under the influence of marijuana at the time. On the show, West confessed that Sarah’s death hurt more than anything he has ever felt in his life and added how part of his heart—the trusting part and the loving part—just vanished and died.
8. Drowning Death Of Child Actress Remains A Mystery
Natalie Wood was a child actress who grew up to maintain success in her adult years but made headlines even in her questionable death. She allegedly drowned, but the events leading up to her drowning have been a source of speculation since she died on a Thanksgiving weekend in 1981 at the age of 43. In 2012, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office reopened her case, amending her official cause of death from accidental death by drowning and hypothermia to drowning and other undetermined factors.
The truth of the matter is, Wood was on a boat with her husband, Richard Wagner, off the coast of Southern California. Two other people, actor Christopher Walken and the boat’s captain Dennis Davern, were also there. That night, Wood went overboard and died. She had a blood alcohol level of .14 along with painkillers and seasickness medications in her system. Her body was bruised, after fighting with Wagner earlier that night. But the couple made up. Wagner wasn’t considered a suspect. However, Wood’s death is far from the only mysterious Hollywood ending.
7. Connecticut Man Dies After Jumping Off World’s Longest Suspension Bridge
A Connecticut man was headed to Brooklyn, New York when he jumped over the structure after parking his car. He died after jumping off America’s longest suspension bridge, New York’s Verrazano-Narrows bridge, on May 7, 2017. New York Police Department officers rescued the unconscious 37-year-old, gave him CPR, and took him to the Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, where he died.
The man’s identification documents obtained by law enforcement showed a Connecticut address and New Jersey license plates. The incident occurred on the same bridge where the Five Borough Cycling Tour took place, but the event with nearly 32,000 bike riders wasn’t disrupted. This bridge increasingly became notorious for suicides over time. Last August, a 27-year-old father of three jumped to his death. The trend became so much of an issue that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority placed signs and a half dozen phones on the bridge in order to discourage potential jumpers.
6. Kitchen Nightmares Contestant Commits Suicide After His Appearances
Yet another reality TV contestant met a tragic end. Joe Cerniglia, a chef at the New Jersey restaurant, Campania, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on September 28, 2010.
In 2007, Cerniglia was featured on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay‘s restaurant rehab show, Kitchen Nightmares. The often outspoken Ramsay unleashed his anger on Cerniglia, a 39-year-old husband and father of three. At the time Cerniglia was featured on the show, he was more than $80,000 in debt. Ramsay said, “Your business is about to f****** swim down the Hudson. Why did you become a chef-owner if you haven’t a clue how to run a business?” In a cruel bit of irony, Cerniglia’s body was found floating in the Hudson River. However, this wasn’t the first time a contestant from a Ramsay show committed suicide. In 2007, Rachel Brown fatally shot herself a year after competing on Hell’s Kitchen. That being said, screening the contestants before they join a show may not be enough.
5. Whitney Houston Drowns In A Foot Of Hot Water
Whitney Houston seemed destined to become a singer from birth. Her mother Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick, and godmother Aretha Franklin were all legendary figures in American gospel, soul, and pop music. Whitney is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums.
Whitney visited singers Brandy and Monica at their rehearsals for Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy Awards party at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California on February 9, 2012. That same day, she made her last public performance when she joined Kelly Price on stage in Hollywood and sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
Two days later, Whitney was found unconscious in Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. Beverly Hills paramedics arrived at 3:30 p.m. and performed CPR on the unresponsive singer. Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. On March 22, 2012, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office reported that the cause of Houston’s death was drowning and the effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use. Toxicology results revealed additional drugs in her system—diphenhydramine, alprazolam, cannabis, and cyclobenzaprine. The death was listed as an accident.
4. Bobbi Kristina Brown Dies From Drowning And Drugs
Whitney Houston and Bobbi Kristina Brown proved the age-old phrase “like mother, like daughter” when Bobbi tragically died at age 22 on July 26, 2015. Nick Gordon and one of his friends found Brown face down in a bathtub in her Alpharetta, Georgia home on January 31, 2015. Gordon began CPR until emergency medical services personnel arrived. According to a police spokeswoman, Brown was alive and breathing after being transported to North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, Georgia. She further stated that they found no evidence to indicate that the incident was caused by drugs or alcohol.
As time went by, an autopsy revealed that she died from lobar pneumonia after spending five months in a coma. As to the cause of death, the Medical Examiner’s office said that cannabis, alcohol, and a prescription medication used to treat anxiety and/or sedation were found in Brown’s body. They cited the underlying cause of her death as immersion associated with drug intoxication. May she rest in peace with her mother.
3. Arva Flour Mill Co-Owner Dies From Jet Ski Accident
A family was devastated by a drowning near the Arva Flour Mill in Arva, Ontario, Canada. The co-owner of the family business, Steven Matthews, drowned while using a jet ski on an Arva pond during a lengthy stretch of heavy rainfall that raised water levels across the region. The drowning happened at about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday May 7, 2017 when Matthews was found with no vital signs. He was alone on the jet ski and his death wasn’t considered suspicious. The death came about one month after a 23-year-old Cambridge man named Nicholas St. Pierre-Beke died after his canoe capsized on the Nine Mile River in Nova Scotia.
In the midst of several straight days of heavy rain, local police advised people to stay away from bodies of water. In the 48 hours that ended that Saturday, the area received as much as 50 millimeters of rain. London-Middlesex paramedics, volunteer firefighters from the Middlesex Centre Fire Service, and victim services of Middlesex-London attempted to revive Matthews, but were unsuccessful.
2. Rodney King Found At Bottom Of Pool
Rodney King was a taxi driver who was pulled from his car and beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers following a high-speed car chase. Video footage showed four officers surrounding King, striking him repeatedly, while other officers stood by. Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. Three were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth officer of assault with a deadly weapon but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force. The jury deadlocked at 8-4 in favor of acquittal at the state level. Within hours of the acquittals, the riots started and lasted for six days. 55 people were killed and more than 2,000 were injured.
King became a symbol for police brutality and troubled relations. He was eventually awarded a $3.8 million settlement, but the money and fame brought him little solace. He had repeated run-ins with the law and wrote a book to recall his struggles. His fiancée, Cynthia Kelly, found him lying at the bottom of the swimming pool in his Rialto, California home. His autopsy reports stated that he died of accidental drowning and that a combination of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and PCP were found in his system.
1. Wisconsin Family Seeks Answers After Daughter’s Mysterious Death During Mexico Vacation
It started off as a family vacation to remember—walks on sandy beaches, poolside relaxation, and a tropical atmosphere. But what was supposed to be a relaxing getaway quickly turned into a horrific nightmare. A Wisconsin family is searching for answers after their 20-year-old daughter, Abbey Conner, suddenly died at a Mexican resort this January. She was relaxing on winter break with her mother and stepfather, Ginny and John McGowan, and older brother Austin in Playa del Carmen when she mysteriously suffered a traumatic brain injury.
One day, the McGowans realized that something was wrong. Both Abbey and Austin were found unconscious and face down in chest-deep water. Austin survived, but Abbey was transferred to a Cancun hospital and later flown to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where doctors confirmed that she was brain dead. The family withdrew life support and donated her organs. But months later, they still don’t know what actually happened.
The official cause of death was accidental drowning, but the family has doubts about that ruling. Austin reportedly said that they did a few shots before a group invited them to do a shot together. They all drank one, and that was all he remembered. Austin’s blood alcohol level was 0.26 while Abbey’s was 0.25.
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