YOUNGSVILLE, La. (KLFY) — After five consecutive years of decreasing child drownings in Louisiana, 2020 was one of the deadliest in recent history.
Louisiana has the fourth-highest rate of drownings in the U.S. for children. The state experienced a 60% increase in drowning for infants and children under 15. They increased from 15 in 2019 to 24 in 2020.
One of those 24 kids lived in Youngsville. Mazie Broussard was 17-month-old last October when she did. Mazie is now the center of Mazie’s Mission, a local nonprofit created by her parents to bring awareness, educate, and promote water safety so that no family has to experience the loss of a child due to drowning.
“Summer’s coming. May is actually water safety awareness month. We knew this would be the time to speak up as hard as it is,”shared Heather Broussard, Mazie’s mother.
Her smiling, curious, and quick little girl couldn’t even walk on the fateful October 20, 2020 morning. While Heather took a moment to put dishes away as Mazie played in the next room, Heather noticed quiet, hurriedly looked around then outside, and saw her daughter face down in the family pool.
Heather said, “We thought we were doing everything right, but that’s the thing. It’s like you just think this is not going to happen to you.”
Mazie’s father, Adam Broussard, said he triest to turn every bad day into a positive, recently celebrated Mazie’s birthday with their two boys instead of skipping it. “You know we just those few minutes back, and we can’t,” he lamented.
The Broussard’s believe their doggie door must have been Mazie’s escape. Even though they found her soon enough for ICU treatment, Mazie didn’t recover. Now, Adam and Heather are resolved to encourage parents to use every precaution available.
“Sometimes it takes a story like that for people to really listen,” admitted Sarah Landreneau, swim lessons director at City of Lafayette Aquatics. “I can talk about water safety all day, but when you hear that, it really kind of wakes you up.”
Landreneau says pool gates, covers, and alarms are other great preventative measures. Her first recommendation is swimming lessons.
“So many times parents turn their back for just a split second and that’s when an accident happens, and we tell the kids and the parents it only takes one inch of water and one minute for a child to drown,” Landreneau stated.
Drowning is the third leading cause of death in children under 15 in Louisiana. It’s the number one killer of kids under five which is Mazie’s parents have a goal of bringing an infant self-rescue (ISR) class to Acadiana which do exist in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, and Alexandria. There ISR is available for children as young as six months.
Adam concluded, “At the end of the day, we still have this void inside. We still have this hole, and it’s missing something, and the only way we can try to fill that void and honor he is by speaking about her and speaking about pool safety and the awareness, and everything we can possibly do so that not one more life is lost.”
The main pillars of their Mazie’s Missions nonprofit are education and swim training. They also partner with schools, businesses, and more when possible. For example, one partnership with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s health is the Water Watchers program which makes sure one person is designated to keeping an eye on children in the water.