The extraordinary tragedy that unfolded at Hagg Lake late last month is spurring calls for action. As reported by The Oregonian, four people, representing three generations of the same family, all drowned in the lake on August 25. The bodies of a three-year-old boy along with those of his “mother, grandmother and uncle” were located “about 30 to 40 feet from the shoreline in water that ranged from 8 to 13 feet deep.”
A week later “members of fire agencies across Washington County, as well as invited guests including Washington County Parks Superintendent Todd Winter and Forest Grove Parks and Recreation Director Thomas Gamble, spent about ninety minutes discussing ideas and safety concerns at Hagg Lake.” Their talks came as part of a safety forum organized with the help of SafeKids Washington County. The meeting was called to consider community responses to the drownings and ways to prevent anything like this from happening again, The Oregonian reports.
Prevention emerged as the most significant theme among the participants. Though the focus on safety for children was paramount, last month’s events also show that safety is not something anyone should take for granted.
Among the recommendations to emerge from last week’s forum: “increasing the number of life jacket loaner stations and repositioning the existing stations for greater visibility, roadside electronic reader boards displaying rotating safety messages, establishing safe swimming areas with flotation ropes and stationing life guards at popular swimming areas,” according to the newspaper.
As a Portland attorney I have long supported the work SafeKids does at the local, state and national level and I am proud to see them taking the lead in bringing the Hagg Lake and Washington County communities together. It is only by learning from tragedies like this that we can hope to prevent their recurrence. That is a lesson not just for this one community, but for all of us in Oregon and throughout the Northwest.