Country star Granger Smith on Friday was mourning the death of his 3-year-old son in what his representative confirmed was a drowning accident that occurred at his Texas home.
The death of Smith’s son, River Kelly, comes nearly a year after Olympic skier Bode Miler and his wife Morgan Miller lost their 19-month-old daughter Emeline Grier, who drowned after falling into a neighbor’s pool.
“My heart breaks. Another baby gone too soon,” Morgan Miller wrote in her Instagram Stories after learning about what happened to Smith’s son.
Morgan Miller shared her message with the Instagram photo that Smith had posted, in which the singer delivered the “unthinkable news” that River had died “despite doctor’s best efforts.”
View this post on Instagram
I have to deliver unthinkable news. We’ve lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived. Amber and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life. Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father. Riv was special. Everyone that met him knew that immediately. The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, I cannot find them in this moment. Love the ones close to you. There has never been a more difficult moment for us than this. . . In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send donations to Dell Children’s Medical Center in River’s name. The doctors, nurses and staff have been incredible.
No details have been released about whether River drowned in a pool or some other body of water around Smith’s Georgetown, Texas, home. But sadly, the pain being experienced by Smith and his wife, Amber, and by Bode and Morgan Miller is all too common.
After their daughter’s death, Bode and Morgan Miller talked openly about their loss to stress to parents their need to be vigilant when their children are around pools, spas and lakes, as well as near smaller bodies of water in the house or yard.
In addition to expressing her sorrow for River’s death, Morgan Miller also posted an Instagram clip, urging her followers to take necessary water safety precautions, including swimming lessons and an alarm system for residential pools that detects drowning.
“It can truly happen to anyone,” Morgan wrote in her clip.
In the United States, drownings are the leading cause of unintentional deaths of children, ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, after car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said 389 children died in pool or spa-related accidents in 2016, the latest year for which data was available. About 73 percent of these deaths occurred in people’s homes. But for every child who dies from drowning, another five are treated at emergency rooms for submersion injuries, which can cause brain damage and long-term disabilities, the CDC added.
In a “Today” show interview last summer, Morgan Miller said she and Emeline were visiting a neighbor’s home. She said the adults sat on the sofa, sipping tea, while the little girl played in front of them.
“And all of the sudden, it was just too quiet for me,” said Morgan Miller, a professional volleyball player who once played for UC Berkeley. That’s when she realized her daughter wasn’t inside and that the door leading to the back yard was slightly ajar.
When she looked outside, Morgan Miller saw that Emeline was floating in the pool. She pulled her daughter out of the pool and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. Doctors initially thought the toddler might survive, but they soon realized she had been without oxygen for too long of a time.
Most drowning deaths involving young children happen in swimming pools, the CDC said. Like Emeline, the children either fall into pools while unattended or they were splashing and playing in pools in the presence of other people. As pool safety advocates say, a person can slip under water quietly and drown in seconds.
Children also are at risk from standing bodies of water found in everyday settings around the home or yard, the California Department of Developmental Services reported. As most parents should know, these settings include bathtubs, which is why infants and young children should never be left unattended during bath time.
But these settings also include wading pools, toilet bowls, dog bowls, cleaning buckets and trenches and ditches, the state agency said.
“Young kids, especially infants, can drown in as little as one inch of water. That’s not a lot of water, really,” Dr. Maribeth Chitkara, an associate professor of pediatrics at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in New York, told CBS News. “For the young children, it’s actually, it’s about half are from pools and the other half is ‘other.’”
Chitkara added to CBS News that a even a cooler could become a hazard, after the ice melts in the summer heat.
“The ice melts when you leave the cooler open and there’s an inch of water in the bottom of that,” Chitkara said. “That’s a cooler that you wouldn’t even think of as being a drowning risk. Even if you have a lid closed, any innocent toddler could come, open it up and fall right in.”
Like the Millers, Granger Smith said he and his wife had to make the “decision to say our last goodbyes” to their child. They also decided to donate his organs so that “other children will be given a second chance at life.”
“Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father,” added Smith, known for “Happens Like That” and other hits. He and Amber also are parents of son Lincoln Monarch, 5, and daughter London, 7.
Amber Smith also shared her grief in an Instagram post, writing, “Nothing can prepare a mother to deliver this kind of news.”
View this post on Instagram
Nothing can prepare a mother to deliver this kind of news. We’ve lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived. Granger and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life. Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father. Riv was special. Everyone that met him knew that immediately. The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, we cannot find them in this moment. Love the ones close to you. There has never been a more difficult moment for us than this. . . In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send donations to Dell Children’s Medical Center in River’s name. The doctors, nurses and staff have been incredible.
On its website, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to “never — even for a moment — leave children alone near open bodies of water.”
Parents also should learn CPR, keep a telephone and emergency equipment immediately available and make sure that every home pool is surrounded by its own fence, specifically a 4-foot-high, four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
Parents should also install safety gates, door locks or doorknob covers to make sure children don’t slip outside unattended. They also should block unsupervised access to bathrooms, and empty water they are done using from wading pools, buckets, coolers and containers that collect rainwater.