HIS GOAL: SAFETY IN WATER
Charlotte Observer, The (NC)
July 9, 1989
Author:  BOB GLENDY, Staff Writer

Keith West wants the deaths of Timmy Mullis, 11, and Brian Cox, 16, in a
farm pond to mean something and hopes to prevent similar deaths.

West, 33, wants to turn his fishing buddies onto a program to provide
swimming lessons for those who can`t afford or don`t have the time to take
their children to swimming lessons.

Brian was trying to teach Timmy how to swim. They were at a farm pond south of Wingate with Kent Aldridge, 14, on June 24.

The boys were swimming when Brian and Timmy got in trouble. Kent tried to
come to their aid, only to tire and float back to the bank. Then he ran to a
neighbor`s for help.

West, an accomplished fishermen, was at Cane Creek Park fishing last week
after the funerals when he caught a big bass. “I had been in a slump and
hadn`t caught any big fish in a long while,“ West said.

West was trying to outthink his quarry and figured the big fish would be
lurking near the edge of creek channels where fresh water surged through the
lake. A strike, the battle to the boat and finally a big female bass slipped
into the net and over the side of the boat.

“My heart was beating so fast and my legs shaking so bad, I thought I was
going to fall out of the boat,“ West said.

West sat down and cried. It was a reaction after spending two days with the families of Timmy Mullis and Brian Cox.

“I witnessed the pain and sorrow in their faces, thinking there was really nothing I could do to help,“ he said. “As I sat there in the boat with the
big fish, all I could think about was why couldn`t that boy swim as good as
this fish.“

West, who already has three trophy largemouth adorning his walls, decided
the $100 he would have spent to mount the fish could be better used to start a fund in memory of the two boys.

“I would like to start a program called Fisherman for Life` to help teach
children how to swim,“ he said. “The money could be used to provide
transportation for children to facilities offering swim lessons.

“Children should be taught to swim at supervised facilities with trained
personnel so a tragedy like this never happens again,“ he said.

West is asking fishermen to make donations to a fund to provide
transportation to areas where children can learn to swim. He is placing fish
bowls in locations around the county, including Cane Creek Park.

“I don`t exactly know how it will work yet, but local fishermen will be
asked to help work out the details,“ he said. “I hope to sponsor a bass
tournament at Cane Creek Park to help raise money for the project.“

Edition:  FOUR
Section:  UNION OBSERVER
Page:  1

Copyright (c) 1989 The Charlotte Observer


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