Family and friends of boy who drowned try to raise awareness of - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Family and friends of boy who drowned try to raise awareness of water safety

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Altoona (WQOW) - Friends and family had a strong message to share along the shoreline, hoping to prevent drowning accidents from happening to anyone else.

Saving lives was the focus on Lake Altoona Sunday evening. Kessea Kahl, the grandmother of Jacob Schultz, who died in August, said, "Our feeling is if we can save one person, we've saved a family. Drowning is the number two cause of death for children under the age of four. It's a silent killer. People aren't going to hear when people are drowning. You don't hear people drowning. Once they hit that water and they're underneath, they don't know what to do."

Kahl’s grandson, Jacob Schultz, died in August, four days after being pulled from the waters of Lake Altoona. Kessea said he had a life jacket but wasn't wearing it that day. Kahl said, "The pain and suffering of losing a child or anyone to drowning is immeasurable."

Jacob's best friend, also named Jacob, collected a total of 569 life jackets in 60 days in his friend's honor. Sunday night, he passed them out to other children.

Jessica Krager, the mother of Jacob Krager, who is collecting the life jackets in memory of his friend, Jacob Schultz, said, "Life jackets will save lives and that was his whole mission behind this project, was to make kids aware that they will save lives and to wear them by the water."

Kahl said, "Oh, our Jacob would be very proud. I know it, he's working through his best friend so yes, he is proud. I feel it every time, like I pull in here today and I see all these kids without life jackets and I'm thinking, 'Thank You Jacob, I get it, I get it.' We are working together to save lives and I know he'd be proud. He'd be proud of each and everyone of us, everyone whose helped and all the places that have donated, you know, he would be very, very proud."

Even those who have made something positive out of the tragedy still find it difficult to be in this place.

Kahl said, "It's really hard, I've been trying so hard not to cry. Because this is the first time that I've been out here when there's been people here and the dock's been out and where he passed away at. And it's very hard to know that this is the place that my grandson was having so much fun at and the not being safe and water safety took his life."

Krager said, "This was his idea, he wanted the life jackets placed. And tonight, he's standing on one of the most difficult places for him (Jacob) because this was where the accident had happened and so it has great significance for him to be here tonight, and it will be kind of a difficult night for him as the night goes on."

The Eau Claire Water Safety Task Force was also at Lake Altoona Sunday evening, handing out water watcher cards with safety reminders for parents when bringing their children near water.

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