In an act of heroism fitting a member of the Judiciary, Judge John Mull died over the weekend after pulling his 17 year old son from the water to safety. The accident happened near Charlotte, NC in the Catawba River, where the family had been building a house for years. According to the Sheriff: "They weren’t but 100 yards from the house," the sheriff said. "He got his son back to shore, and then the family turned around and the judge was gone." It is still unclear what happened, but he was found underwater about 45 seconds later.
His son had been suffering from cramps and Judge Mull had jumped in to help him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. It is a loss not only to them, but to all of us that such a selfless individual has been taken from us. It is also a reminder of how quickly events can turn, and to always respect the dangers of swimming in open water. Unfortunately, too often the rescuer can become the victim as attention is turned to the person just saved. While concern for ones own safety is lowered, you inadvertently put yourself at risk too.
Cramping is only one of the dangers that swimming can pose. Swimming in lakes and rivers comes with its own unique safety hazards. They can be host to bacteria and hidden debris. There is also the danger of unexpected undertows, and eddies that can pull a swimmer under. You should never swim alone. Remember there are seldom lifeguards posted at lakes or on rivers. If you do swim in open water it is best to wear a flotation vest.