Bereaved Father to Meet "Drowning Support Network" founder
Kira Reddick, who lost her life to drowning at age 6 in 2004
Russ and his daughter, Kira
Russ with his Suzuki the day he set out
Camarillo, CA, September 10, 2013—When Russell and Angela Reddick lost their 6-year old daughter, Kira, in a tragic drowning accident in 2004, they did not know where to turn for support and guidance. Angela discovered a wealth of practical information and compassion on the Drowning Support Network (DSN), an all-volunteer, online peer support group. Camarillo resident, Nancy Rigg, founded DSN, which is sponsored by a small nonprofit organization, the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund. "The Drowning Support Network was there for us when we really needed help," says Angela. "Nancy Rigg is an amazing source of information for families who have lost loved ones to drowning. In addition to support, we were encouraged to educate ourselves about our grief, drowning awareness and prevention, and how to help others. Russ is meeting Nancy on September 15th, if all goes well on his journey. We hope to help other families learn about this resource."
In honor of Kira, Russell Reddick hit the road on, September 7, 2013, beginning a 10,000 mile motorcycle journey to the four-corners of the Continental USA. Russ is riding his 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, "The fastest street-legal motorcycle in the world," he says. Along the way, he will be hosted by members of DSN, including Rigg, participate in water safety and drowning prevention events with public safety agencies, and raise funds for the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund.
Angela Reddick is the trip coordinator for her husband's "four corners" course. "This is not the famous 'Four Corners' of the Southwest, where you can stand in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona at one time," Angela explains. "It's the four corners of the lower 48 states in the USA. Russ is starting in Casper. Then he's heading to the first 'corner' in the Northwest, Blaine, Washington. The second 'corner' is San Diego, California. The third 'corner' is Key West, Florida. And the fourth 'corner' is Madawaska, Maine. He will then head back home to Casper, Wyoming. We estimate the total journey to be about 10,000 miles."
Russ adds, soberly, "According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 10-12 people drown per day in the United States. Worldwide, over 500,000 drown every year. And this number doesn't include boating fatalities, floods, hurricanes, or tsunamis. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children age four and younger. And it's the second leading cause of accidental death in kids 14 and younger." Russ notes that drowning is "a silent epidemic, and we all need to do so much more to reduce the death toll," adding that, for the most part, "drowning is preventable. But it's fast, and unlike in Hollywood, where 'victims' flail around screaming for help, victims drown before anyone notices they are in trouble."
If a victim is rescued and resuscitated, Russ explains that survivors may end up with severe brain injuries. "Over 50% of drowning victims need hospitalization," Russ says. "Near drowning, or 'nonfatal drowning' survivors, as the medical experts call it, can suffer with life-long disabilities. Angela and I don't wish 'fatal' or 'non-fatal' drowning on any other family. That's why I'm heading on the road and speaking out."
To track Russell's journey, a link is posted on the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund website.
The Higgins & Langley Memorial Awards were established in 1993 by the National Association for Search and Rescue Swiftwater Rescue Committee in honor of Earl Higgins, a writer and filmmaker, who lost his life to drowning in 1980 while rescuing a child who was swept down the Los Angeles River, and Los Angeles County Firefighter Paramedic Jeffrey Langley, a pioneer in swiftwater and flood rescue who lost his life in a helicopter incident in 1993. In 1995, online educational and networking resources were launched, including the Swiftwater Rescue News and the Drowning Support Network. In 2002, the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund received 501(c)3 nonprofit certification.
In 1992-93, Rigg worked closely with local public safety agencies, including the Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department and Lifeguards, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to establish a pioneering multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional swiftwater rescue program to "Give victims who are swept away in floodwaters a good chance to be rescued," says Rigg, "and protect first responders who need to perform swiftwater rescue operations and keep them safe in this extremely dangerous environment." The Los Angeles swiftwater and flood rescue program has served as a model worldwide.
"We wish Russell Reddick a safe journey," says Rigg. The death of Rigg's fiancé, Earl Higgins, in 1980 inspired her to establish DSN. "I was totally isolated when Earl was swept away," Rigg explains. "He was missing for nine long months before his body was finally recovered. I really could have used more support and practical information at that time." Rigg notes that drowning is a year-round threat. "The more we can all speak out, work together, and discuss water safety issues, the fewer lives will be lost."
The Higgins and Langley Memorial and Education Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Sudden Death—Grief and Trauma
Flood Safety Information
Russell Reddick's 10,000 Mile Ride for the Drowning Support Network
Rigg International Swiftwater Challenge
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