Lea Owens and her daughter, Brittney Woody, entertained a special guest recently at Woody's home in Warrenville. Russell Reddick stopped there on Oct. 4 and spent the night during his 10,000-mile motorcycle ride to promote drowning awareness and prevention.
Reddick also is raising money for the Higgins & Langley Memorial and Education Fund, which sponsors the Drowning Support Network, an all-volunteer, online effort.
Reddick's daughter, Kira, was 6 years old when she died in a drowning accident in 2004. One of Owens' children, Harley, was 6 when he died after falling into a backyard swimming pool in North Augusta 15 years ago.
The opportunity to host Reddick “was wonderful,” Owens said. “It was an honor to me. I also wanted to honor my son by allowing Russell to come here and stay with us and by helping him spread the word about water safety. My son passed away on Oct. 15, 1998.”
Reddick left his home in Casper, Wyo., aboard his 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle on Sept. 7. His goal was to travel to the four corners of the continental United States.
Following the death of her son, Owens founded the Mother's [sic] for Water Safety Coalition, and she met Reddick and his wife, Angela, through her drowning prevention efforts.
Owens has tried for years to get politicians interested in what she calls “Harley's Law,” which would require a backyard pool to have a fence.
Owens advises parents of children to always watch their youngsters when they are near or in the water.
“We need to stop this silent killer,” she said. “You can drown in any town.”
Dede Biles is a reporter for the Aiken Standard.
She has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.