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Arizona swim instructor aims to help others after witnessing drowning

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Arizona swim instructor aims to help others after witnessing drowning


“I witnessed a drowning when I was 10, and it affected me,” said Tracy Richards. “I saw the mom’s face afterwards, and I vowed that I would never see that again. I was 10, and I vowed at that point I would never watch another child drown.

At 15, Tracy started teaching swim lessons. Today, she is a swim instructor at the Village in Gainey Ranch.

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“I mean, you hear about the near drownings and people say, ‘oh, but they survived.’” Sometimes, that’s not the quality of life that anyone would like,” she said.

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Statistics from the Children’s Safety Zone show that from Jan. 1 to May 11, 2024, 18 deaths resulted from 43 water-related incidents. That includes seven children up to the age of 5.

“I mean I think every parent’s worse fear is you walk outside, and your kid is in the pool, and you didn’t see it – whether they’re still trying to kick or God forbid, there is a drowning because especially in Arizona, you hear about it so much,” Taylor Bellow said. “We have so many pools.”

Taylor Bellow didn’t want to take any chances with her 2-year-old son, Brexton. He started lessons a few months ago.

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“My parents live very close to us. We are over there all the time, and they do not have a pool fence, so we opted to make sure that, even though he is not really interested in the pool before we started swim, there’s just always that maybe, so we wanted him to learn to maybe flip over, float and get to the side,” said Bellow.

Group swim lessons vary in size, anywhere from two to five kids. Richards starts her lessons at 9-months-old because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rate.

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“It’s a process for everyone, but they all learn to get to the wall. They learn to roll and float on their back,” she said. “All those things not necessarily in the same order, but learning those things is important because most kids don’t fall into the middle of a pool, they fall by the side, so if you teach them to roll over and get to the side right away, it’s a good thing.”

Richards runs a number of different programs that teach children the importance of water safety, including mommy and me classes and a unique swim and read program, where she uses phonics and familiar words for the fun of swimming.

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All these years after witnessing that drowning, Richards is even more passionate about saving lives because she says drowning is 100% preventable.

“It’s OK for them to be uncomfortable to learn the process because crying during the process is a lot better than never crying again,” she said.



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Arizona

Bear shot dead after attacking 15-year-old in Arizona cabin:

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Bear shot dead after attacking 15-year-old in Arizona cabin:


A black bear was shot and killed by Arizona fish and game officers after it entered a home through an open door and injured a teenager in a mountain community near the New Mexico state line, wildlife officials said.

The 15-year-old boy, identified as Brigham Hawkins by his family, received wounds to his face and arm when the bear swiped at him, and he was treated at a hospital after the late Wednesday incident in Alpine, the state Game and Fish Department said.

His mother, Carol Hawkins, told CBS affiliate KPHO-TV in Phoenix that the bear attacked her son while he was alone and watching television.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think (a bear) would come in the home,” she told the station.

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Hawkins said her other son heard screams and went to help. Wildlife officials said the bear entered the home a second time before it fled.

“Not many kids can say they got in a fight with a bear and came out on top,” Hawkins said in a Facebook post that included a photo showing cuts on her son’s nose and arm. Hawkins did not respond to a Facebook message Saturday from The Associated Press.

Wildlife officers found and shot the bear, which the agency said was believed to be about 3 years old and would be tested for disease by department specialists.

“It was thanks to the quick reaction by his brother and his family that they were able to distract the bear from what very easily in a matter of seconds could have turned into a real tragedy there,” AZ Game and Fish Department Law Enforcement Supervisor Shawn Wagner told KPHO-TV.

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The teen was taken to a local hospital with injuries to his face and arm and has started the rabies vaccine as a precaution but is expected to recover.

“Everybody that came into help him, he had a big thank you and so he’s handling it well. And he’ll be okay,” Carol Hawkins told the station.

The attack was the 16th by bears on people in the state since wildlife officials began keeping records in 1990, including two that were fatal, the department said.

A 66-year-old man was killed almost a year ago when he was attacked at a campsite in the Groom Creek area south of Prescott and about 100 miles north of Phoenix.

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Arizona mother on a mission to prevent drownings after son's tragedy

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Arizona mother on a mission to prevent drownings after son's tragedy


An Arizona mother has a warning about drownings after her son survived one, but was never the same.

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Her nightmare started with a call that no parent ever wants.

“I got a phone call that something happened,” Lindsey Black said. “Something happened to one of my boys.”

Her son was nearing 2-years-old when he fell into a babysitter’s pool.

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Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news:

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“They don’t know how long he was under, but the blood toxicity said he was about 45 minutes without oxygen, and he was 30 minutes in cardiac arrest,” Black said.

The family was forever changed in an instant.

That was in 2006, but Santana lived for seven more years using a feeding tube and oxygen to sustain him.

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“My other two boys, they lost their mom at the same time for a while. I was devastated, but I took that, I took all of that and said ‘I need to give back for him,’” Black said.

Her mission is to save families from the same pain.

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“The only way to stop it is to get eyes on these kids. Get the barriers, then get the classes,” she said.

Those are options that could’ve saved her son’s life.

“I didn’t have those classes. There wasn’t a fully fenced pool at the property that it happened at,” she explained.

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It was a heartbreaking loss – both times.

“I’ve lost him twice. I’ve lost two different versions of my son, and I miss them both,” she said. “So much.”

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Click here for drowning prevention tips from the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona



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Arizona dispatch: students from 70 law schools and universities debate 20 proposed amendments to the US Constitution at model convention

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Arizona dispatch: students from 70 law schools and universities debate 20 proposed amendments to the US Constitution at model convention


JP Leskovich is a rising 3L at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and JURIST’s News Managing Editor. He filed this dispatch from Phoenix. This is the second in a series of dispatches he’s filing as an embedded reporter for JURIST at the Model Constitutional Convention sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Design at ASU Law.  

Student delegates at the Model Constitutional Convention being held at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law this Memorial Day weekend debated 20 proposed amendments to the US Constitution in their sessions Saturday.

The proposals covered a range of topics, including environmental protection, national service, future constitutional amendments, court reform, impeachment, gun control, electoral campaign periods, term limits, lifting the cap on the number of representatives in the House of Representatives, the right to marry, limiting presidential pardon power, prohibiting political gerrymandering, instituting restorative justice, abolishing death-qualified juries, Congressional representation for the territories, codifying tribal sovereignty, restricting eminent domain, restricting investment for members of Congress, and prohibiting discrimination based on sex and gender.

Contrary to the first day of the Convention, where we deliberated in smaller committees, the whole Convention—all 110 of us serving as official delegates—debated these amendments in plenary sessions. This resulted in wide-ranging debates on these topics, with heated but constructive conversation about our constitutional future. We were governed by a modified Roberts Rules, which provided us with structure so we could get things done in the time allotted (granted, it did take us nearly 8 hours!).

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In addition to debating the proposals as written, we introduced and voted on a number of amendments to the proposals. This allowed the Convention to express its democratic will and change the proposals. For example, the Equal Rights Amendment was amended to include “sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation,” instead of just “sex.” There were a number of moments where we had to call “division,” which required the chair to count each of the votes. The fact that we need to call “division” so many times showed how contentious many of these amendments were and how difficult it can be to reach a consensus.

One of the first proposals that we discussed was one that would enshrine tribal sovereignty in the US Constitution. Tribal nations in the US are sovereigns, but their sovereignty is often infringed on. This proposal would codify the current status of Indian law in the US to protect tribal sovereignty from Supreme Courts that may not understand the intricacies of Indian law and therefore limit tribal sovereignty.

“Historically, the Supreme Court is not good at doing Indian law,” said Crispin South, a Choctaw law student at Arizona State University who represented Oklahoma and introduced the proposal. “I think Justice Brennan once called Indian law cases ‘chicken shit’ cases.” He pointed to Montana v. US and Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, saying that “those cases really for no reason abrogated the sovereignty of tribal nations with very feeble justification.” Therefore, he said, this proposed amendment is necessary to “right some precious wrongs and create a firewall for the current Indian law paradigm.”

During debate, delegates expressed support for recognizing tribal sovereignty and treating tribal nations as equals. As the delegate representing Wisconsin, I emphasized that there are 11 federally recognized tribes in the state and that constructive government-to-government relations are critical to ending the long chain of broken promises and broken treaties. South said he felt good about the debate:

I think it went well. The one bit of opposition we did get was requiring tribal nations to adopt the US Bill of Rights and I think Congress has really already done its job in enacting the Indian Civil Rights Act in that respect. So I don’t think it would be wise at this point to constitutionally require that the Bill of Rights be incorporated against tribes.

Another proposal that received considerable debate was giving the territories full voting rights in Congress. There seemed to be widespread support, with some delegates agitating to provide the territorial delegates to the Convention the ability to vote this weekend. Some expressed concerns about granting territories with small populations two Senators.

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I spoke with Rafael Montero, who was a delegate representing Colorado but is from Puerto Rico, about territorial representation and what it was like to hear people debate his own rights. “I felt the lack of information in regards to the territories and their political status, especially in regards to taxation and how taxation works in relation to how the government already has power over the territories.” He went on to say that, “on the other hand, there were people that I felt very grateful for and in solidarity with for supporting and advocating for those rights.” He emphasized that it’s important for territories to have voting representation in Congress because they are already being governed by the federal government and the President.

There were some more contentious amendments proposed, like one that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Some more conservative delegates expressed concerns about codifying abortion rights and transgender rights. And some of the women delegates noted that it was mostly men expressing opposition. This was definitely the most tense and contentious debate, but it still remained mostly respectful and productive.

In my first dispatch for this Convention, I expressed optimism that we could be a beacon for a new and more just constitutional order. After a day of debate, I am still optimistic that young Americans can build a better democracy, but that optimism is much more tempered and cautious. The threshold is high, and it is hard to build a broad enough coalition in a nation so divided. We are voting today, so we shall see.

Still, the fact that so many US law students and undergraduates gathered to discuss our constitutional future shows that there is a critical mass of young people that are hungering for democracy to work better.

Opinions expressed in JURIST Dispatches are solely those of our correspondents in the field and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST’s editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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