Mom's grief turns into useful initiative for community - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Mom's grief turns into useful initiative for community

Melissa Zirkle is making sure other kids know about lake safety. Melissa Zirkle is making sure other kids know about lake safety.
MADISON, OH (WOIO) -

Jermaine Zirkle was only 13 when he drowned while swimming in Lake Erie. It's been about a year.

"I can't really say I'm over the grieving fog yet, I still find myself in the fog, a little numb," says Jermaine's mom.

Melissa Zirkle may still be numb but she's dedicated to making a difference. Her son, a good swimmer, died after being caught in a rip current.

"I always heard it call under current and I thought it was an ocean thing like high tide and low tide. I don't think it was possible on Lake Erie not at all," says Zirkle.

Melissa has spent her whole life on the shores of the lake and if she didn't know, she assumes others knew very little about lake rip tides.

My son was with five other swimmers that day and none of them knew what to do, not any of them knew what to do in a rip current situation," says Zirkle.

Her research led her to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project based in Illinois.

Zirkle then lobbied the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and they agreed to pay to bring two trainers here to teach free public classes on lake safety. She thinks her smart funny son, who wanted to go to Harvard would be proud of her.

 "If it can save another child then all my time was spent doing something worthwhile," says Zirkle.

Melissa's next step is to lobby administrators to teach water safety in the schools.

Copyright 2014 WOIO. All rights reserved.

 

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