Family of 5-year-old girl who drowned in 2015 advocates for water safety

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GOTHAM, Wisconsin (WMTV) – A week after a 7-year-old girl drowned in the Pecatonica River in Lafayette County, state officials are focusing on water safety as many people are heading to Wisconsin’s waterways for the July 4th weekend. A family, who lost their daughter to drowning in 2015, echoed this message.

Jennifer Christianson lost her 5-year-old daughter six years ago. Now, she still shares her story in the hopes that her safety message will help save someone else’s child.

“There was never a dull moment with Angela,” Christianson recalls.

Christianson described 5-year-old Angela Girton who has a happy and outgoing daughter.

“She loved the water, but we took her to the local pools and stuff, I never took my kids to the river,” she explained.

However, in 2015, Angela and her sister were with their babysitter and ended up near the Wisconsin River, where Angela fell and drowned.

“You never know when something like this is going to happen,” Christianson said, adding that these accidents happen so quickly.

Six years later, Christianson, his father and sister are campaigning for water safety for children and adults.

“Wear your life jacket so that doesn’t happen to any of your children,” she said.

Angela’s death also inspired the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) to expand a partnership with the Wisconsin DNR, setting up 13 lifejacket loan stations along the river to encourage people to wear life jackets. rescue on the water.

“Kids don’t float, but life jackets do,” said FLOW President Timm Zumm.

Zumm explained that the kiosks have been used a lot during the year, but that he still sees too many people on the river without a life jacket. Zumm said people should put the BC on immediately, not just when in the water or on the boat.

“Seat belt off, life jacket right there before you approach the water’s edge,” he explained.

MNR Conservation Director Michael Williams echoed Zumm, saying that while the law only requires boaters to have a life jacket readily available, he recommends wearing it at all times.

“If you get thrown out of the boat and the life jacket floats away from you, it makes it very difficult,” said Williams.

Williams added that wearing a life jacket is a precaution that works.

“I’ve seen people get caught in the trees and stuff like that and if they didn’t wear their life jackets then they would be in a lot of trouble,” he said.

For Christianson, she hopes Angela’s story inspires others to take safety seriously before it’s too late.

“So they don’t have to face the heartache of an accident,” she explained.

NBC15 specifically asked Williams what they typically see over the holiday weekend. Williams explained that the holiday weekend is a mandatory work weekend for goalies and they spend a lot of time on the water so they can react quickly if something happens. Still, he stressed that the biggest tip is to wear a life jacket at all times.

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