As we told you last week, country singer Granger Smith’s three-year-old son River died tragically two weeks ago from a drowning accident at the singer’s home. Now, Smith and wife Amber have released an emotional video to thank fans and let their online community know how they’re coping. 

In a preface to the video posted on Instagram Smith says, “I’ve been dark on social media, but I still have a full understanding of the responsibility placed upon me as a public figure. I can choose to snuff that influence, or instead use my platform (in relevancy big or small) towards what I believe is right. I believe I’m obligated on certain levels to include you guys in my current journey, as I’ve been involved either personally or musically in yours.”

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We’ve been on quite the journey these past few weeks. I’ve been dark on social media, but I still have a full understanding of the responsibility placed upon me as a public figure. I can choose to snuff that influence, or instead use my platform (in relevancy big or small) towards what I believe is right. I believe I’m obligated on certain levels to include you guys in my current journey, as I’ve been involved either personally or musically in yours. – The finality and mortality brought on by death makes life feel fragile. It can weaken, terrify and separate those close to it. But it can also awaken us. It can remind us never to take a moment with those we love for granted. – In my house, we have united stronger and closer than we’ve ever been. We’ve cried. We’ve smiled. I’ve held my family tight. I’ve found strength from God and used that in the face of adversity so that my wife and children can rely on me. I’ve guarded my heart and my mind during weak moments and graciously accepted all of the encouragement and empathy from so many. I have realized that I will not slave over a search for answers, but instead for meaning. I will focus and then cultivate the light from a dark place, the good from the bad, God’s will from my own plans. I can rest assured knowing that River’s assignment on earth was always intended for 1116 days and not only did he live it to the fullest, but he lived it loved by so many, including a mother, father, sister and brother who held nothing back and have no regrets on how much he felt that love. We should all be so blessed to be able to live like Riv. – Amber and I want you to hear it from us and not just read it, so we made this little video for you to watch. (Link in bio)Thank you for all the love, prayers and support. We feel it!

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With that, the Smiths linked to a video on their You Tube channel, where, in an act of what I can only describe as pure bravery, they actually reveal the private details of how River’s drowning accident occurred. Like so many of us do, they were simply just enjoying an evening playing outside together. Their oldest child, daughter London, was doing gymnastics, and their boys, River and 5-year-old Lincoln, were playing with water guns.

As quickly as it came, that peaceful moment was ripped away, and, Granger says,

The pair choked up multiple times throughout the lengthy video, which they also used their video to thank and praise the first responders and hospital staff that tended to and tried to save River’s little life.

The part that really got me, though, was when they shared a video compilation of some of River’s sweetest moments that they had made for his funeral service.

(Yeah. I lost it. Whew.)

Amber and Granger also spoke about how they’d been able to talk to other parents who had lost a child to accidental drowning, and said that  in the future they hope to pay it forward by being people who can offer comfort to other bereaved parents. It’s not a club anyone wants to be in, and I certainly admire their willingness to pour into others what was poured into them. 

Not to put words into the Smiths’ mouths, but I am sure it is also their hope that no one else has to go through what they did, that no other parent would have to lose a child to an accidental drowning at home. Fatal child drownings occur most often at private residences where there is no lifeguard on duty and where swimming is not planned; that is, when a child wanders into the pool area and falls or jumps in without anyone noticing. And unfortunately, right now these incidents are on the rise.

As a reminder, here are some precautions  we’ve mentioned before that need to be put in place when you have or visit a home that has a pool are:

1. If you have a pool, have a fence.

The fence should be 4-sided and at least 4 feet tall all the way around. It should have a locked, child-proof gate.

2. If you’re visiting a home with a pool or hot tub, do your own safety survey of gates and locks.

The home you’re visiting may have different water safety standards than you and your home do. If they aren’t as secure as you want them to be, commit to keeping a closer eye on the kids while you’re there.

3. Get your kids swim lessons from a young age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Children over age one may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction.” Toddler swimming lessons are a thing for a reason! If you have a pool at your house or frequently visit one where life guards are not on duty, get your kids in consistent, year-round lessons until they are proficient swimmers.

4. Learn CPR. DO IT.

In am emergency, every second counts. Equip yourself with the knowledge and skill to save your child’s life. You may not have time to wait for EMTs in a drowning situation. Straight shooting here: this is a must if you have young kids.

Once again, our deepest, deepest condolences to the Smith family over precious River’s loss. I am so, so thankful that they are speaking out, because I truly believe that the more awareness brought to the tragedy of accidental drowning in children under five, the more lives will absolutely be saved. May River’s story save the little lives of some of his peers, and may his sweet memory live on.

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.