Dr. Paul Perella, DMD

Patient Spotlight: Keri and Roarke Morrison

They turned their tragedy into an inspiring mission

Keri and Roarke Morrison have had to do the unimaginable...bury their sweet two-year old son, Jake, after a tragic drowning accident in 2013 while visiting family over the Thanksgiving weekend. Just like every American family, they were enjoying each other's company and getting excited for the holidays. As with any large family gathering, it's very easy to lose track of curious little ones. Keri remembers she was in the other room nursing her 12-week old daughter, Julia, when she overheard someone say, "Where's Jake?"

In an instant their lives changed forever. Jake had slipped out of the house; fell off the dock and into the Intracoastal Waterway. The darkness made it impossible to see anything but Roarke and another family member hopped on some jet skies to search for Jake. When they found him, they immediately rushed him to the hospital where the doctors tried to revive him...but it was too late.

Jake loved the water and had a healthy respect for it, however, he did not know how to swim or float until help arrived. Unfortunately, not knowing how to Self-Rescue is a common occurrence among very small children and babies. Like most parents, it never occurred to Keri and Roarke to teach their baby to Self-Rescue since they didn't own a pool nor live near the water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the #1 cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4. One way to prevent this tragedy of ever happening again is to teach your child Infant Swimming Rescue (ISR), which is exactly why Keri and Roarke have made their life mission to make ISR lessons available to every family who needs them.

They started the Live Like Jake Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that provides swim scholarships for ISR Self-Rescue lessons to families who may not be able to afford these life saving lessons, as well as provide financial and emotional support to families who have lost a child or have a child with critical care needs. Last year, they held the inaugural Live Like Jake 5K Run/Walk which raised $48,000. This year's 5K will be on May 14 at Abacoa. For more information on how you can take part in this event, please visit www.livelikejake.com.  

While a parent will never get over the death of their child, Keri and Roarke have turned a tragic event into something important, relevant and inspiring.

If you have a little one who cannot swim or Self-Rescue, we implore you to enroll them in ISR lessons. You can find an instructor near you at http://www.infantswim.com

The most critical line of defense is adult supervision. No level of aquatic skill can replace adult supervision.

If your child is ever missing, look in the water first. Here are the other layers of defense:

  1. Pool Fences: Install a permanent 4-sided fence with self-locking gates. Ensure that the pool fence is at least 3-5 feet from the pool edge.
  2. Alarms: Make sure all doors and windows leading to the pool are locked and alarmed.
  3. Survival Swimming Lessons: A moment's inattention does not have to cost a child his life. ISR's Self-Rescue training is an added layer of protection, teaching your child water survival skills in a completely safe environment.
  4. CPR: If an emergency happens, it is essential parents and families are prepared. Learn to perform CPR on children and adults and remember to update those skills regularly.