Experts warn to keep water safety in mind this summer

Water Safety

While Rochester families were diving in the deep end at Soldiers Field Aquatic Center, in Hopkins, MN, another family's worst fear came true.

(ABC 6 News) – The City of Rochester debuted its much-anticipated Soldiers Field Aquatic Center at noon on Monday.

The new aquatic center is making a big splash with the community, with all the big attractions drawing in hundreds of visitors on opening day.

RELATED: Soldiers Field Aquatic Center opens

Amid all the fun, experts warn to keep safety in the water top of mind.

“We have 25 guards on duty and they’re constantly rotating, but to have that many guards is huge just to have all the eyes on there,” said Autumn Kappes, Executive Director of Rochester Swim Club.

While Rochester families were diving in the deep end, just a few hours north in Hopkins, MN, another family’s worst fear came true, as four-year-old Waeys Mohamed’s young life was cut short.

RELATED: Police find body of missing 4-year-old in Hopkins

“Right now we believe this was an accident and that he did drown, however we will do our due diligence and work with our partners to determine the exact cause of death,” said Hopkins Police Captain Craig Kreiling during a press conference Monday.

Water safety expert Richard Young says the best ways to prevent drowning accidents is to never swim alone, teach your kids how to swim and always keep an eye on them.

For kids like Waeys, who had severe autism and trouble communicating, it’s critical to teach them about water safety in case they wander off.

Rochester local Brad Trahan, who’s own son has severe autism, says people with the disability are often drawn to water in any form.

“In 2007, I actually partook in a search in Wisconsin where a 7-year-old boy went wandering away, and I thought to myself, what if that was our son?” said Trahan.

Trahan was essential in bringing a program called Project Lifesaver to Minnesota, to help locate people with autism, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disabilities, in case the worst happens.

“You can put these transmitter bracelets on, your local law enforcement can then converge on that area that individual was last seen at,” said Trahan.

Project Lifesaver is active in 62 counties in Minnesota, including Olmsted, Mower and Dodge Counties, but not Hennepin County, where Waeys lived.