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Every Alabamian needs to read this before heading to the lake this summer

Smith Lake, Alabama
Smith Lake, Alabama

It’s almost the end of May, which means schools across Alabama are about to end for summer and the mass migration to Alabama’s lakes for Memorial Day weekend will begin. One Alabama family is trying to use a tragic event to raise awareness for a little-known threat on the water.

Last month, 15-year-old Carmen Johnson was spending a Saturday with her family and friends on Smith Lake. After taking a ride on some jet skis and lying out in the sun, Carmen and one of her friends jumped into the water for a swim. Carmen’s father, Jimmy, was working nearby on the boat dock, so he decided to lower the boat’s metal ladder into the lake so the girls could climb out easily.

As soon as the ladder hit the lake, it sent out an electrical current throughout the water. Carmen’s friend screamed for help, but Carmen had already started to sink. Jimmy jumped in to try to save her, but he was hit with the electric shock as well. He yelled to his wife, Casey, to shut off the power to the boat dock and then blacked out.

Jimmy and Carmen’s friend made it out safely, but Carmen had already sunk to the bottom. Her father jumped in to try and find her, but she was already too deep. It took divers two hours to recover her body.

The Johnsons say that the incident was caused by an electrical box on the boat dock filling with water, which could have happened during the flooding of Smith Lake over Christmas. The day Carmen died was the first day the family had been in the water since Christmas. The flooded electrical box sent an electrical charge throughout all the metal on the dock, and the metal ladder making contact with the water transmitted the charge into the lake.

Carmen’s family is using this tragic accident to raise awareness of the possibility of electrical shock drowning. The family discovered Dock Lifeguard, a product that can detect an electrical current in the metal of a boat dock and up to a 40-foot radius of the surrounding water. A man in Missouri created Dock Lifeguard after someone he knew lost two sons to electrical shock drowning.

Carmen’s father is now selling Dock Lifeguard along with his audio/visual business in Decatur. The family hopes to share their message and warn others about this danger before anyone else falls victim, especially as the summer begins and huge numbers of Alabamians head to the lake.

(h/t WBRC)

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