Mother of son who drowned hopes sharing his story will save lives this year

As the weather gets nicer and the water looks more and more inviting, one Tacoma mom hopes sharing her son’s story will help save lives this year.

First responders warn drownings can happen a lot during this time of year due to cold water temperatures. Even though the weather is warm, water is still frigid from the winter, experts say.

This is a fact Janice O’Neil, unfortunately, knows all too well.

On July 4, 2014, her son, Rashawn Hale-Moody, left to go swimming with his friends at Alder Lake.

The 18-year-old had just graduated high school and had his entire life ahead of him.

"I miss him. If there could have been something I could have did; if I would have known he was going to the water," said O’Neil.

O’Neil says her son drowned, despite being an excellent swimmer, due to the cold water temperatures at the lake.

"When you jump in the water and realize how cold it is, and then hypothermia can hit you, you can be in shock. From there it’s bad if you don’t have a life jacket on,"  Sergeant Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff’s Office told Q13 News in 2020.

"I can’t bring him back. He doesn’t celebrate any more birthdays," she said.

April 24 would have been Hale-Moody's 25th birthday.

O’Neil says while her son is gone, his life and story can still touch others.

"I want to save a life," she said. "Whoever I can reach to get this through to them, that’s my goal," O’Neil added.

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