A Change of Course When the Unthinkable Happens
Pool Safety, Survival Swim
No parent should ever have to bury their child. Yet we all know nothing in life is guaranteed. Jamie Corbett remembers every detail of the day her son, Gunner, drowned. It was January 29, 2019. Her and her husband have gone over the home security video footage so many times, as well as the timelines of the events that took place. And while they’ll never be able to outrun the things they cannot change, they’ve spent the last two years advocating for change in different ways so others will never have to know the pain of a similar loss.
A Day of Tragedy
Jamie left work that January day to meet her husband, Jason, at home so they could meet up with a photographer to get the photos necessary to list their house for sale. They removed the fence around their pool to get “more appealing” photos, a move she has since advocated against in many realtor circles. Jamie went back to work, leaving Gunner napping with his older brother, Graysen, while her husband, the photographer, grandma and the babysitter remained at home.
“I remember thinking the backyard looked naked,” Jamie recalls. “It looked odd. But my husband was home, and he’s a safety freak. There were so many adults there, it would be fine,” she added.
Jason, a fire chief at a local station, locked the door that led to the pool, reminded both remaining adults that the pool gate had been taken down and when the boys woke up to not let them near the backdoor. He was stepping out for a few minutes to take the photographer to the amenities center to get more photos for their listing.
It was only after the accident, viewing the inside home security footage, and talking to Graysen, were emergency officials able to piece everything together.
Grandma had opened the backdoor to let the dogs out, and while one dog came back, the other didn’t, so she left the door unlocked and slightly open to allow for the dog to come back inside. Because the backdoor had been slightly ajar for an extended period of time, the alarm didn’t trigger when the boys woke up from their nap and went outside. The babysitter, upstairs clearing up the boys’ room, thought grandma had the boys, and grandma thought the babysitter had the boys.
Graysen told the officers that he and Gunner wanted to drive the monster trucks by the pool. They drove them into the stairs a few times and then Gunner’s went into the deep end, and that’s when Gunner went swimming to retrieve his trucks.
Jamie was wrapping up the roughly 30 minute drive back to work when she got a call from grandma that Gunner had fallen into the pool. She remembers telling grandma to just dry him off and it’ll be fine, but Jamie wasn’t understanding the severity of the situation until her husband called and said Gunner was being transported to the hospital by LifeFlight and it didn’t look good.
“We believe the boys went outside within 4 minutes of Jason leaving the house,” adds Jamie. “I think what haunts us the most is it’s a 10-minute task of taking the fence down and putting it back up. It’s not hard.”
Jamie is the first to admit that she didn’t realize drowning was such an epidemic. Both Gunner and Graysen had been enrolled in ISR swimming lessons and had recently graduated a few months prior to Gunner’s accident.
“I don’t have a swimming background,” says Jamie. “I didn’t know anything about lessons. I didn’t know what they were supposed to know and do in order to graduate. We spent over $1,400 on swimming lessons, and after Gunner drowned, I needed to know why they didn’t work,” she says.
Jamie immersed herself into learning more about survival swimming lessons and the value in doing the legwork to ensure you’ve chosen the right swim school and survival swim instructor.
“You can go to one, and they’ll be phenomenal,” she says, “and you can go to another one, it’s a totally different experience. I didn’t know at the time that my child didn’t have good lessons or quality lessons. He shouldn’t have graduated and clothes tested.
“From what Graysen said, I’m not even sure Gunner rolled over,” she added.
Gunner’s Gift & the Future
Since Gunner’s accident, Jamie has made it her mission to make changes. She knew she wanted to do something to help, so she established Gunner’s Gift. Gunner’s Gift is dedicated to drowning prevention and education. It hosts an annual toy drive, offers free CPR lessons and even scholarships kids so they can learn the proper survival swim instruction.
Each year Jamie hosts a community birthday party in Gunner’s honor and only asks for families to donate a toy if they are able, which started at his funeral when more than 2,000 toys were collected in lieu of flowers.
Jamie remains dedicated to pool safety advocacy, working hard to pass laws that require pool fences to remain intact during home showings.
“I want it to be socially acceptable to see pool fences in MLS photos,” says Jamie. “I want to help get laws changed to take away the stigma of the ‘ugly’ pool fence.”
Jamie has since become a survival swim instructor herself, dedicating her time to helping families learn the proper instruction to ensure they don’t experience the same trauma as her family. She reminds everyone that most drownings occur when adults are present, but because they are preoccupied and talking to friends, they don’t see or hear everything.
“The bigger the party, the bigger the accident,” warns Jamie. “No one is watching because they think everyone is watching. My child drowned due to stupidity and complacency.”
For more information about survival swimming lessons, give the experts at Texas Swim Academy a call today. Lessons can begin for children as young as 6 months old.
SWIM SCHOOL IN KATY
Texas Swim Academy is a state-of-the-art swimming facility offering water safety, survival swim, and kids swimming lessons in Katy, Texas. Owners Kathleen and Bruce McMordie, alongside our certified staff, help parents introduce children to water at an early age through the Infant Survival Swim Program , teaching life-saving techniques and basic swimming skills.
Our Stroke Development Program offers six different levels to help students progress in their swimming skills at his or her own pace. Our Adaptive Aquatics Program was created specifically for children with special abilities. Find swimming class registration information here. By subscribing to Texas Swim Academy’s blog , you can stay current on valuable water safety resources such as survival swim, health and wellness, Texas Swim Academy news and more. Follow our Facebook , Twitter, and YouTube pages for even more news, updates, and tips!