Quantcast
Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

Family of drowned Weber County man hopes free life jackets will save lives

By McKenzie Romero, Deseret News

Published: Mon, Aug. 25 8:55 p.m. MDT

 Randy Bradley watches over his grandchildren, Kennedy Bradley, 7, left, Kolin Bradley, 4, second from left, Karter Bradley, 1, center right, and Kaden Bradley, 9, bottom, at the South Marina at Willard Bay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Friends and family of Brigham Bradley, who drowned in Willard Bay about a year ago, teamed up with the Hale Family Life Jacket Foundation to build a life jacket station at the South Marina.

Randy Bradley watches over his grandchildren, Kennedy Bradley, 7, left, Kolin Bradley, 4, second from left, Karter Bradley, 1, center right, and Kaden Bradley, 9, bottom, at the South Marina at Willard Bay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Friends and family of Brigham Bradley, who drowned in Willard Bay about a year ago, teamed up with the Hale Family Life Jacket Foundation to build a life jacket station at the South Marina.

(Michelle Tessier, Deseret News)

WILLARD BAY STATE PARK — Jared Bradley paused as he looked at the life jacket hanging on the newly constructed stand at Willard Bay's South Marina.

The jacket wouldn't bring back his brother, but maybe it would save someone else's.

Spirits were high as friends and family of Brigham Bradley built the stand Monday evening, teasing each other as they worked and watched the sun set out over the bay.

And they talked about Brigham.

"He was just solid. He was always pulling for the underdog," said Jared Bradley, recalling his brother's kind heart and unique sense of humor.

Brigham Bradley, a Weber County sheriff's correctional officer, drowned at Willard Bay last year when his jet ski broke down out on the water. He wasn't wearing a life jacket, a simple precaution that his family believes would have saved him.

In his memory and with the hopes of saving other lives, the Bradley family and the Hale Family Life Jacket Foundation put two free life jacket stands at Willard Bay on Monday, located at the North and South marinas.

Each stand holds about 15 jackets, purchased through a grant from SelectHealth and donations from Weber County Search and Rescue, and bears a sign explaining how to find a proper fit. A third stand was placed at Utah Lake earlier this year.

The idea is simple. If someone doesn't have a life jacket, they can pick one off the stand, use it for the day and return it before they leave. There's no reason to be without one, said Jared Bradley.

"A lot of people think, 'Oh, they're uncomfortable. I don't want to wear one. I'm not going to go in the water.' You never know what's going to happen. Just put it on," he said. "If it prevents one person from drowning, it was worth putting up."

Requests to build the two life jacket stands began in March, hitting a few complications along the way. Ultimately the Bradley family wasn't allowed to include a memorial rock with their life jacket stands but went on without it.

Now that the life jacket stands are in place, they can continue to heal.

"It's been a really positive way to deal with a tragedy," said JoAnne Duke, a friend of the family and representative for the life jacket foundation. "We were excited to bring in the Bradley family. We've been through what they went through, so it was great to pull them in and give them something positive to look forward to."

The Hale and Bradley families grew up together, and both have been tragically altered by drownings. In 2010, Duke's two adult brothers, uncle and a family friend drowned at American Falls Reservoir in Idaho. Their experiences show how quickly and how unexpectedly things can go wrong, Jared Bradley said.

"Most people think, 'It could happen, but it's not going to happen to me,' until it does," he said. "When you get that call and there's nothing you can do to change that, there's nothing worse in the world."

Duke urged Utahns to take advantage of the stands when they're out on the lake, and then to return the jackets at the end of the day. Unfortunately, all of the donated jackets have gone missing from the Utah Lake stand, she said.

The foundation has since put up seven free life jacket stands across Idaho, including three at American Falls Reservoir. They next hope to add a stand at Pineview Reservoir in Utah as they share their message: It's only a life preserver if you have it on.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero

Related Stories
Recommended
1. Third try screen name
Mapleton, UT,
Aug. 26, 2014

The very concept escapes me.
Was Mr. Bradley so impoverished that he couldn't afford a PFD? Not likely.
Are these risk-takers going to be motivated by free stuff? I don't think so.
This is a misguided project where I'm concerned.
I hope it brings closure because it might otherwise be a false safety net.
If a family thinks they don't need to buy jackets because they can always borrow them at the lake, what happens when they get there and find out that all the jackets are taken? Do they go out without them? Or do they stay on the shore?
I'm surprised authorities are allowing it.

2. AGF
Taylorsville, UT,
Aug. 26, 2014

Without delving into the Darwinian processes involved here, it's worth mentioning that lakes are far more dangerous than rivers when it comes to canoeing and kayaking. With Utah rivers at least, you are never more than a few dozen feet from shore; you can swim out of almost any situation at any temperature. With lakes, even a life jacket may not save you in cold water. But rule number one: don't get in a canoe without one. Rule number two: don't go far from shore in cold water. Whenever I take a canoe in a cold lake I tow a life raft behind me.
--AGF

3. davidroy
Flagstaff, AZ,
Aug. 26, 2014

I totally agree with Third Try. Life jackets are not that expensive. Are we to believe that a person can afford a boat or other personal water craft...plus the cost to operate those items....but can not afford a $30 life jacket? Seems it's more a matter of choice than it is cost. It's a nice gesture on the part of the family but I'm afraid that's all it is, a gesture and not a solution. I have a boat and there is a lifejacket for each person on board at all times. Youngsters must wear them while out on the water. Even though it's the law,some people refuse to use seat belts and die when ejected from their vehicles in an accident. We can't make everyone safe if some choose not to be. I suppose it's about freedom to decide for ones self. The surviving families suffer for bad decisions.

4. neece
Logan, UT,
Aug. 26, 2014

wow what a wonderful humanitarian project to honor the death of their loved one. Sometimes a death in your family can make you or break you. I am always in awe of people who can turn a tragedy into such a positive. I personally think it helps heal their wounds of profound loss. So "Way to go guys!" My heart felt prayers are with you and your family. Keep up the good work.

5. UtahBruin
Saratoga Springs, UT,
Aug. 26, 2014

I totally disagree with Third Try. Do you know hold a door for someone in a wheel chair because they should have been responsible enough to know they were going out and should have brought someone with them to hold the door. Do you not help a lost kid find parents or safety because someone else should have been responsible enough to look out for them. Do you not offer someone the right of way on their way to the hospital because they should have not hurt themselves in the first place or made sure the roads were clear before they needed to go.

You have got to be kidding me. Should people take responsibility for their own actions, absolutely. But is it so wrong to provide a helping hand if you can. Who cares if you or anyone else can afford a life jacket. That is not what this is about. If anything, it should be taken as a friendly reminder to be safe. This is what is wrong with this world, it is all about me, me, me, and how you can be the one to try and point out to someone they are wrong. Ridiculous!