Officials push water safety after 12-year-old drowns at Sandy Point

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Following the drowning death of a 12-year-old girl, officials are reminding swimmers and boaters to stay safe this Labor Day weekend. 

Brian Rathgeb, the Southern Region Commander for the Maryland Natural Resources Police, held a conference on Wednesday to talk about Kaniya Kenly, a 12-year-old from Baltimore who drowned while swimming in a restricted area at Sandy Point Beach on Tuesday. 

RELATED: 12-year-old girl drowns at Sandy Point beach while in restricted area

Kenly and three other young kids had gone swimming in the restricted area by themselves, something Officer Rathgeb does not suggest. 

“Make sure when you are at the beach you are looking out for everyone who you are there with, are sure someone knows where you are all the time, and don’t swim in an area where you are not supposed to swim.”

Officer Rathgeb stressed that you need to do this even when you plan on going in just to your waist. While this seems like you are in control, you never know what is going on in the water. 

“This is not a pool. You do not know how deep the bottom is, what the currents are, you don’t know what the tide is doing," explained Officer Rathgeb. "So you really need to be aware of your surroundings, know where you are.”

This advice also follows a deadly drowning year in Maryland. Police say 16 people have died in boating or swimming incidents this year.

Officer Rathgeb says to avoid this happening to you, always wear a lifejacket. He says newer models and types have been released, making them lighter, not as hot, and inflatable. 

Also, boaters should always have a float plan and tell people where you are going and when you plan on coming back. This way, if anything happens people will know where to start looking. 

Overall, Officer Rathgeb just wanted to stress being aware of your surroundings and to be safe so future drownings can be avoided

“It’s heartbreaking. No matter how many times you see it, how many times it happens, it’s heartbreaking every time. A tragic accident where somebody loses a life. Like I said, you got to stress safety, when you are around the water make sure you are safe because water is such a powerful force. And particularly when you are in an open setting here as opposed to a pool, or when you put a boat in the mix. So you have got the water, the heat, an engine behind you, so many things can go wrong that people really need to take extra precautions.”

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