Madison Heights Family Pushing Lifesaver Law - WSET.com - ABC13

Madison Heights Family Pushing Lifesaver Law

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Reporter: Rachel Schaerr | Videographer: Daniel Heffner

Madison Heights, VA - One year after a Madison Heights woman drowned in a tubing accident, her family is turning their pain into purpose.

Wendy Maness was not an experienced swimmer and was not wearing a life jacket when her tube overturned in the Glasgow area last summer. Her family says wearing a vest could have saved her life.

David and Kathy Tyree want a law requiring all tubers to wear life jackets. They say they want to remind tubers and canoers to wear them. They're sharing their story to keep other families from going through their pain.

"By being unexperienced she got caught in the side current and was brought in down the edge of the water this way," said David Tyree.

On July 23, 2011, the Tyree's angel and a cause washed ashore.

"Wear your life jackets so your family doesn't have to grieve like we have," said Kathy Tyree.

"I would fully support requiring anybody being on the water to have a life jacket on," said Robert Foresman, Rockbridge County's Public Safety Director.

Wendy Tyree Maness was the second of two people to drown in this same area where the Maury River and James River converge.

"It tends to be very dangerous, especially when the water's up, fast moving," said Foresman.

Glasgow Water Rescue officials say on average, three to four canoers have to be saved here every month. The Tyrees have seen the dangers first-hand.

"A group of kayakers went right down through the center gorge and not a single one made it without turning over," said David Tyree.

So, every other week David and Kathy Tyree come back to honor Wendy and remind the public that life can change as swiftly as the currents that took their daughter away.

"If something can come out of this and save other people's lives, that's all we want," said Kathy Tyree.

"I think it's wonderful. Being safe on the river, wearing your life jacket, being prepared for what you can't imagine can happen is extremely important," said Jeff Patton, who was out canoeing with his daughter. "We'll spend a lot of time tutoring today if you will."

Foresman says in the past six years, four people have drowned along the Maury River, and two of them in this same area.

Right now, there's no law requiring tubers wear life jackets, but the Tyrees hope soon that will change.

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