A Tragic Incident Sparks the Need for Change
In June 2022, a heartbreaking incident occurred in Burke County, Georgia, resulting in the tragic drowning of 4-year-old Israel “Izzy” Scott during a private swim lesson. Shockingly, it was revealed that there were no existing laws to protect children in such instructional settings. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, local state senators have taken action by introducing a bill known as “Izzy’s Law.” This proposed legislation aims to regulate private swim instruction and establish essential safeguards for the protection of children.
The Tragedy that Prompted Change
A Preventable Accident
On that fateful day, little Izzy Scott met a heartbreaking fate while under the guidance of Lexie TenHuisen, a 66-year-old swim instructor from Waynesville, North Carolina. Izzy, undetected by those supervising him, found himself in the deep water of the pool. It was not until TenHuisen’s granddaughter went to remove the pool vacuum from the shallow end that Izzy was discovered. The Burke County Sheriff, Alfonzo Williams, confirmed the heartbreaking news of Izzy’s drowning.
Following public outcry, TenHuisen faced charges of involuntary manslaughter. The incident shed light on an alarming loophole in Georgia’s legal framework concerning private swim lessons. Residential pools, including those used for instruction purposes, remain unregulated, with no safety evaluations conducted by the Georgia Department of Public Health. Even public-use pools often lack necessary regulations.
Relentless Pursuit of Justice
A Mother’s Determination
To ensure that no other family would suffer a tragedy like theirs, Izzy’s mother, Dori Scott, turned to local legislators for help. Their collective goal was to create a bill that would protect children partaking in swim lessons throughout Georgia. One legislator, State Sen. Max Burns, not only heard their plea but also wholeheartedly agreed that legislation was necessary. From that moment, progress began towards enacting the much-needed change.
A Bittersweet Journey
While the bill instilled a sense of hope and healing within the Scott family, Dori Scott acknowledges that closure may forever elude her. The unanswered questions surrounding her son’s drowning remain a painful reality. However, Izzy’s legacy lives on, as his tragic fate has spurred positive change. His courageous spirit, like that of a superhero, continues to protect and save lives, serving as a powerful reminder of the importance of this legislation.
Senate Bill 107: A Step Towards Safety
The Key Provisions
State Sen. Harold V. Jones II and Senator Max Burns spearhead the newly proposed bill, known as Senate Bill 107. The bill mandates private swim instructors in Georgia to adhere to an approved aquatic safety plan issued by the state Department of Health before conducting any swim lessons. These “aquatic safety plans” consist of written documents that outline safety protocols, training requirements, and emergency response procedures. Instructors can either adopt a model safety plan provided by the Department of Health or create their own, as long as it incorporates all the necessary procedures and standards outlined in the bill.
Ensuring Safety and Standardization
The provisions of Senate Bill 107 aim to protect young swimmers by emphasizing important aspects such as student-to-instructor ratios, allowing caregivers to be present during lessons, requiring CPR certifications for instructors, and implementing additional safety equipment within the swimming pools used for instruction.
Consequences for Non-Compliance
Private swim instructors must agree to follow the safety plan. Failure to comply with any of the provisions outlined in the bill may result in a misdemeanor charge and fine. The severity of the fine increases with repeated violations and can reach up to $1,000. The imposition of fines emphasizes the gravity of the situation, highlighting the potential risks associated with neglecting safety measures.
Empowering Parents with Knowledge
Spreading Awareness and Confidence
Dori Scott firmly believes that the bill will not only enforce necessary safety standards but also raise awareness among parents. By understanding what to look for and demanding higher standards, parents can ensure their children’s well-being remains a top priority. Scott shares her personal experience, highlighting the anxiety that now accompanies even the simple act of shopping for swim trunks. However, she firmly believes that through this legislation, parents will ultimately gain peace of mind regarding their children’s safety during swim lessons.
Community Support Driving Change
The Scott family’s efforts to contact and gain the support of legislators were made easier by the overwhelming support from their community. The unimaginable tragedy that befell their family resonated with countless individuals, making it easier to rally support and reach out to legislators. It was an unheard-of incident, leaving a lasting impact on the hearts of many.
As the proposed “Izzy’s Law” progresses, it carries the weight of immense hope and determination. It represents a crucial step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of children during private swim lessons. Through this legislation, Izzy’s legacy lives on, continuing to make a positive impact and saving lives.