Saving Others from Drowning: Father Dies Trying to Save Drowning Son

Saving Others from Drowning: Father Dies Trying to Save Drowning Son

Saving others from drowning is much more complicated than it first might seem. The tragic incident of a father and son drowning in a Virginia lake during Memorial Day weekend serves as a sobering reminder of this fact. The dangers of the open water are something every person should take to heart.

In this spirit, today’s blog will touch on this story and look towards the complexities of saving others from drowning. Read on for advice about some steps to take if you find yourself in a situation where you notice another person is drowning. 

Understanding the Risk: A Sad Recent Story

A Pennsylvania father, Matt Atchley, tragically lost his life while attempting to save his 14-year-old son, Tyler, from drowning in Lake Anna, Virginia. Tyler was struggling to stay afloat. Launching to action, his father leapt into the water in an attempt to rescue him. Unfortunately, both drowned despite emergency responders’ efforts to save them. In the end, it’s truly a horrible story and something that should weigh heavily on every person concerned with water safety.

You can read the full story here.

Key Steps in Saving Others from Drowning

Noble intentions are, well, noble. Sadly, this is only half the battle. Ultimately, being prepared for disaster is still the best advice. As the old adage goes “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” Knowing how to save others from drowning requires careful attention and a steady hand.

Stay Calm

Panicking can cloud your judgment and impede your ability to help effectively. In any dangerous situation, it always pays to keep your cool. This way, you can remember your training and keep your wits about you. 

Know to Call for Help

If possible, alert nearby people and emergency services immediately. Provide clear information about the location and the number of people in danger.

Reach and Throw, Don’t Go

Contrary to what movies and TV might say, diving into the water unprepared is rarely the best advice. Instead, most water safety experts recommend a plan called “Reach and Throw, Don’t Go.


Reach: If the person is close to the shore, use a stick, pole, or any long object to reach out to them. Remember, a person in a panic… is panicked! They may not realize what is happening and accidentally drag a would-be rescuer under the waves. For this reason, it’s best to keep your distance.

Throw: If they are farther away, throw a floatation device, such as a life jacket or a buoyant ring.

Go: As a last resort, swim out to the person, but only if you are a strong swimmer and have been trained in water rescue.

Back on Land: First Aid

Once the person is brought to safety, it’s time to start first aid.

Check for Breathing

Place your ear close to their mouth and nose to see if the victim is breathing.

Begin CPR if Necessary

If there is no pulse or breath, start CPR immediately and continue until help arrives or the victim starts breathing. This is where CPR training is wildly important for every person.

Know How To Perform CPR On Children & Adults

Prevent Hypothermia 

Cold or freezing water can be causing greater damage. Keep the victim warm by covering them with blankets or towels.

Remember the Importance of Water Safety Training

This article's tragic story about a drowned father and son highlights the importance of water safety and rescue training. Knowing how to respond in such emergencies can save lives.

Recognize Warning Signs of Drowning

People who are drowning may not be able to call for help. Look for signs such as silent struggling, bobbing up and down, or a person floating face down.

Saving others from drowning requires knowledge, skill, and presence of mind. The heartbreaking story of Matt and Tyler Atchley should serve as a reminder for all of us to prioritize water safety and be prepared to act in an emergency.

By understanding the risks and being prepared with the right skills, you can make a major difference in preventing drownings and saving lives. Together, we can prioritize water safety education and to respond effectively in emergencies.