Family of drowning victim calls for adding lifeguards at designated swimming areas

Posted: 1:17 PM, May 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-25 01:31:44Z

The family of a 19-year-old who drowned in Lake Waco on Memorial Day plans to start a call to action to add lifeguards at designated swimming areas of Lake Waco.

Currently, there are signs at area beaches stating there are no lifeguards on duty so people are swimming at their own risk.

Waco Police said Christopher Sharp swam past the designated swimming area at Twin Bridges Park and went under water on Monday.

His fiance Laurelee Foster was in the beach area when the accident happened. 

"I just knew that he had to come up, that we had to save him," Foster said. 

The 18-year-old remembers being devastated when she first heard her fiance would not survive.

 "I held his hand for a really long time. I kissed his forehead and I wiped his blood away. I laid on his chest and I didn't hear his heartbeat because that's what I went to sleep on every night," Foster said.

Sharp's stepdad Raymond Ripley said lifeguards could’ve possibly saved his life. 

"We are trying to get a petition started to where there is a lifeguard on duty in a designated swimming area because no parent should bury their child. That's the worst nightmare you can ever have," Ripley said.

According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clay Church, it's very unfortunate his family is having to go through the loss of their loved one.

"Whenever there is a fatality at one of our projects, it is certainly not something we like to hear about nor like to experience. We do have a fairly robust safety program with water recreation at our lakes," Church said. 

He added the corp's funding and staffing levels would not allow them to put full-time lifeguards at lake beach swim area. However, he said they will continue their outreach to educate the public about water safety. 

The family is hosting a memorial service open to the public on Friday. It will take place at Connect Church in Bellmead at 2 p.m. 

Foster and Ripley hope to celebrate with others the life of the Connally High School graduate and JROTC member. 

"He could make you smile. He could be friends with you as soon as he met you," Foster said. 

Sharp who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force after eight months is also remembered for his selfless personality.

“He was very dedicated to helping other people. He was helping other people before he helped himself," Ripley said.

Sharp's friends will also host a balloon release to honor Sharp at Connally High School on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. 

To help the family with funeral costs, click here .

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