Summer Water Safety And A Cautionary Tale: Remembering Wyatt Dale
MINERAL WELLS, TX. – June 27, 2022 – That’s all it took. Five seconds, and then he was gone. Nearly nine years ago, 3-year-old Wyatt Dale Terasas drowned after being pulled underwater by a boat’s wake while wading just offshore at Possum Kingdom Lake’s (PK) Sandy Beach.
With area residents and visitors returning to PK over the summer and fourth of July holiday, Palo Pinto General Hospital (PPGH) urges lake goers to wear lifejackets and take other precautions when on and out of the water, wading on the beaches or relaxing in swimming pools.
Lake goers can seek treatment for insect bites, sunburn, fish hook removal, and other conditions at PPGH’s new primary care clinic, Possum Kingdom Family Health, 55 South FM 2353 in Graford off the east side of PK. Fourth of July weekend hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 1 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 2 through Monday, July, 4. The clinic will also be open the weekend of the PK firework show, Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Graford site also is home to Palo Pinto County Emergency Services #1’s fire and EMS services.
“It’s our wish that everybody have a safe summer,” Joshua West, family nurse practitioner at PK Family Health, said. “But if you need us, we’re here.”
Wyatt Dale’s father and grandmother have honored his memory by starting and growing the Remembering Wyatt Dale nonprofit, which distributes free lifejackets and educational material about water safety.
By the end of the summer, Tracey Terasas, Wyatt Dale’s grandmother and co-founder of the organization, based in Graham, TX., believes the organization will have distributed about 7,000 Super Soft life jackets at community events and appearances.
Wyatt Dale would normally have worn a life jacket when he and his dad made a quick stop at PK on July 7, 2013, but it was dirty and in his grandmother’s possession for cleaning. He was standing in shallow water next to his father when a boat’s wake sucked him out into a drop-off. Momentarily unaware Wyatt Dale had gone under, the boy’s father first looked back to the beach when he noticed his son missing.
The beach was busy with people enjoying the Fourth of July, and there were numerous boats offshore, but nobody noticed Wyatt Dale had been sucked into the murky water.
“He was right there,” Tracey Terasas said. “If he had been wearing a jacket, that would have pulled him to the top.”
Wyatt Dale loved water, the outdoors, his family, and church, and always wore a life jacket around water. “The one time we didn’t, he lost his life,” she said.
Safety tips for the water:
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket. Especially in murky water with a current, it can be the difference between life and death. Most drowning fatalities in natural water are non-boating related. While it is important to wear a life jacket in the boat, wearing one in the water is even more important.
- Pay attention. Children drown silently so, have a Water Watcher, a non-distracted adult who watches the water constantly.
- Know the water conditions. Lakes and oceans can vary on a daily basis. From clear to murky and calm to rough waters, it’s important to know the condition of the water before getting in.
- Wear a bright-colored swimsuit so you are easily seen in the water.
- If somebody in your party is missing, look to the water first.
- If an emergency does happen, call 911 immediately and then begin CPR while EMS is in route.
“Accidents still happen with folks wearing lifejackets, but if we take all these precautions all of the time, we minimize the chances of life-altering outcomes,” Terasas says.
(Photo captions: Tracey Terasas, at Lake Eddleman, Graham, Texas; a lifejacket to be distributed by the Remembering Wyatt Dale nonprofit)
ABOUT PALO PINTO GENERAL HOSPITAL
Palo Pinto General Hospital, operated by the Palo Pinto County Hospital District, is dedicated to providing high-quality convenient health care throughout the region. The county’s leading health care provider operates centers in Mineral Wells, Gordon, Santo, and Possum Kingdom Lake, emphasizing prevention and wellness. PPGH’s growing network includes an acute care hospital and rehabilitation and skilled nursing unit; urgent and primary care clinics; specialty clinics in women’s services, heart, orthopedics and sports medicine, pain management, pediatrics, urology, and pulmonary; and a mobile healthcare unit. Learn more at ppgh.com.
ABOUT REMEMBERING WYATT DALE
Remembering Wyatt Dale is a 501©3 nonprofit organization based in Graham, TX. The organization formed to honor the memory of Wyatt Dale Terasas, who drowned on Possum Kingdom Lake July 7, 2013. The organization, through its mission “Save Lives One Jacket at a Time,” provides free life jackets to children, swim scholarships and water safety awareness training to families. Learn more at rememberingwyattdale.org
Scott Nishimura, Pavlik and Associates
Megan Hudson, Palo Pinto General Hospital