CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — One local family has made huge developments in educating the community and visitors of the Coastal Bend area about the dangers of rip currents and undertows in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kiwana Denson and husband, Terry Denson, have initiated The JeSani Smith Beach Safety Alert after their son drowned near the Packery Channel after being pulled underwater by a strong rip current.
JeSani Smith was a strong, athlete that attended King High School and despite being in top shape, the rip current still pulled him under.
JeSani's family has vowed to do whatever they can to prevent other families from losing a loved one to the treacherous rip currents that lurk in the water.
Last year, Nueces County commissioners issued a proclamation and appointed July as 'Beach Safety and Rip Current Awareness Month' in Nueces County.
The JeSani Smith Beach Safety Alert organization visits local beaches throughout the North Padre Island area and distributes information and wristbands to make beachgoers aware of how to protect themselves and their families when in the water.
A local surf shop, Dockside, has joined forces with the JeSani Smith Beach Safety Alert organization and will be handing out wristbands to all customers and visitors to help spread beach safety awareness throughout the month of July.
Dockside Surf Shop first opened its doors back in 1968 in Port Aransas under a different name and moved its location after a fire destroyed the store.
After moving to their current location in Flour Bluff in 1974, just a short time later, it was featured in the classic movie, 'The Legend of Billie Jean' in 1994.
The owners, Tippy, and Patrick Kelley have created a classic surf shop experience and feature a wide variety of surfboards, rash guards, clothes, hats, swimsuits, and other gear.
"People need to be aware of the rip currents, what a rip current is, and the unsafe places to go. I’m glad they put up something there at Packery Channel, but they need a massive sign," said Dockside owner and surfer, Tippy Kelley.
"I would certainly like to see more lifeguards in the lifeguard stands. I don’t see the lifeguards because I surf early, but the majority of people start showing up around 8 o’clock in the morning. Now, on my day off on Monday, I’m usually there till around 11:30 a.m. or 12:00 noon, and I still don’t see any lifeguards there -- and people are packed in there," added Tippy.
Being an avid surfer, Tippy says she has seen many people saved from the sketchy North Padre Island waters.
Tippy says she has a lot of respect for the water and wants to help educate others about staying safe in any way possible.
According to Tippy, even the strongest swimmers and surfers can get into trouble in a heartbeat while out in the water.
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