Nearly five years after the drowning death of a 7-year-old boy, a San Diego-area pastor is making it his mission to keep it from happening to other children.
To this day, the sight of his backyard swimming pool brings back memories of one of the toughest times in Pastor George McKinney’s life.
"It was just a horrifying scene,” McKinney says while walking around his pool. "We were just having an exciting time, and then it happened.”
In September of 2009, 7-year-old Albert Jones was playing in McKinney’s pool with friends. Pastor McKinney was upstairs in his bedroom when he heard cries and screams coming from the backyard.
"I saw my wife and her sister were doing CPR. We called 911,” McKinney explains. "They said they were able to get a pulse. I heard one of them say to the other, they got a pulse.”
Paramedics rushed little Albert to the hospital but unfortunately, that’s where he died. For years, Pastor McKinney lived with the guilt.
"I couldn't even go into the backyard. I had a hard time just walking around the pool,” he said. "The whole family was devastated and we kept asking, how could this happen. How could this happen?”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.
The organization cites lack of swimming ability, barriers for pools and other water sources and lack of supervision are the top three reasons for drownings in the U.S. One of the keys to preventing drowning is to have someone watch children in the water.
"I thought of an idea. What if we had a second set of eyes," he recalled.
So he went to work to create and patent a device called the Albert Jones Anti-Distress Device.
McKinney says a swimmer can wear it and it will send signals to a lifeguard or parent if the person in the water is in trouble.
"This is something that can help people respond immediately because you only have two or three minutes," he said.
The device is still in the beginning stages of development but McKinney says his mission goes deeper.
"If no one ever buys a device and we are able to bring attention to someone who can expose their children to swimming, and they can learn to swim adequately, then it's worth it,“ he said.
For more information on how to prevent drownings, click here.