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Mother of drowning victim advocates beach safety ahead of Spring Break

Kiwana Denson formed a community task force, and they are working to ensure visitors are aware of all the dangers they could encounter ahead of spring break.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi mom who's son drowned during a trip to the beach in April of 2019 is advocating water safety when it comes to rip currents.

Kiwana Denson formed a community task force, and they are working to ensure visitors are aware of all the dangers they could encounter ahead of spring break.

"He was very athletic, that in itself, doesn't matter how tall or strong, you are not stronger than the water," Denson said. 

Denson's son Je'Sani Smith was a King High School student and drowned after he went into the water and was pulled out by a rip current. He was just 18 years old.

Since the incident, Denson made it her mission to help prevent anyone else from going through the same kind of tragedy.

"I have that drive and passion because I do not want someone else to succumb to that tragedy we suffered, it's very painful.  Something you don't want to experience," Denson said.

Denson's task force includes county and state officials who are all working on ways to educate the public about the risk of rip currents and what to do when you get caught in one.

Beach alerts have already been added to the county's Reverse Alert System, but the task force wants to go further.

"Our next step is to take it to our legislature and have it utilized statewide," Denson said.

The task force is also working with TxDOT to place mobile signage at entry points onto the beach. The signs would read be safe, don't drown, watch for rip currents, swim near lifeguards.

"You save one person's life or one person from injury, and it is worth every bit of this effort," State Representative Todd Hunter said.

Hunter is also a member of the task force.

"If we can bring those mobile signs in with good messaging, we can stir folks to safe areas and not get themselves caught up in a rip current," Hunter said. 

Signage would also be used in areas that are especially prone to dangerous rip currents.

"We talked about putting no swimming signs at those areas on each side of the jetties and Bob Hall Pier," Denson said. 

Denson is hopeful to start awareness campaigns at local schools. She will also be taking a proactive approach during spring break by being out in the crowds in hopes of spreading awareness.

She is looking for any businesses that would be willing to help with the printing of the safety flyers.  For more information on her effort, go to www.saniwet.com.

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