Pine Belt emergency officials remind residents of water safety

Pine Belt emergency officials remind residents of water safety
Photo credit: WDAM

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Separate swimming incidents in the Pine Belt took the lives of two teenagers over the weekend.

Those incidents occurred at the C.E. Roy Community Center pool in Hattiesburg and on the Leaf River in Forrest County.

Juwine Hughes, 13 of Laurel was found unresponsive in the C.E. Roy Community Center pool Sunday around 3:30 p.m.

"Hughes passed away (Monday) morning at University Medical Center in Jackson, he died from fresh-water drowning," Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict said.

DonTarious Bowens, 15 of Hattiesburg was found in the Leaf River near the Evelyn Gandy Parkway after divers spent hours searching for his body.

According to authorities, Bowens was with a group of people and they saw him go under and did not come back up.

With those two deaths, hours apart, Pine Belt Emergency Management officials are pushing the importance of water safety.

"There are popular swimming spots all around the Pine Belt, from lakes, to pools to rivers, and they are extremely popular this time of year when the temperatures start to rise," Forrest County Emergency Management Director Glen Moore said. "If you don't know how to swim, obviously don't enter into the river or water."

Swimming in a lake or river is always more dangerous than a pool.

"River swimming is a lot different than what people realize, you can be walking along at knee level and all the sudden you'll hit an 8 to 10 foot deep hole," Moore said.

Moore said another safety tip is to take a life jacket, especially for people who are not great swimmers.

"Always have someone there with you in case you do get into trouble, but the main thing is, is just realize that rivers have under-currents, it's different from going to the beach or swimming in a pool and a lot of people don't take that into consideration," Moore said.

Another tip is to not dive in water where you do not know how deep it is especially in a murky river or lake.

Moore recommended that someone in the group or party you are with, if there is no lifeguard on duty, knows CPR.

"Parents always keep an eye on your kids, it just only takes a second any they can be out of your eyesight and some unfortunate tragedy can happen," Moore said.