Following Keystone Lake Drowning, Lifeguard Offers Tips to Stay Safe Around Water

A day at the lake with friends, quickly turned into an emergency situation Thursday afternoon. Five teens were at Keystone Lake when two of them began to struggle in the water. That is when 18-year-old Brendan Earl of Tulsa jumped into the water to help his friends, at least one of whom, could not swim. Earl, apparently, went under in the process and drowned.

"It's really heart-breaking," said Becky List, a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the Daily YMCA in Bixby, emphasizing that, aside from being a good swimmer, knowing what steps to take in an emergency on the water can mean the difference between life and death.

List says to remember one short phrase -- "Reach, throw, row, but don't go."

"In some instances, like this one, the person who goes out to do the rescue, actually, is the one who ends up getting harmed the most," said List.

Whether it is on the lake or in the pool, the rescuer should be aware of the dangers of going in after someone. List says, lifeguards teach swimmers to reach for the person, throw a raft, or get to them in a boat, but do not go in after them, unless it is your last resort. That, she says, is when the rescuer can quickly become the victim.

"In first aid, in general, we always say to the rescuer, you know, 'You don't want to become a victim, yourself.' And, so, it's really important for the person who might, potentially, be doing a rescue to survey the scene and make sure the scene is safe for them and, in this case, making sure that the water is not over their head, that they're able to swim, that they know what they're getting into before they become a victim, themselves."

List says she would like to see more people become educated in water safety and hopes to prevent any situations similar to the one that happened Thursday on Keystone Lake.

The two victims Earl attempted to help were eventually rescued and transported to St. Francis. Both Survived.

Oklahoma State Troopers on-scene said personal flotation devices were not used.