Houston mother spreads awareness about childhood drownings through her own loss

HOUSTON – The summer season has not even begun and drownings in Texas have started to slope upwards.

According to data, as of April 24 this year, 14 children have drowned in Texas. The data was collected by the Help and Hope Organization. There were three more drowning involving children just this week in the Houston area.

On Monday, a 4-year-old boy drowned in a northeast Harris County apartment pool. Another 4-year-old was found in a bathtub in Tomball Tuesday. On Wednesday, a 5-year-old boy drowned in a Sugar Land pool. The security cameras at the apartment complex captured the drowning on camera, according to Ford Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls.

“There (are) video cameras (at) this pool and it does show this small boy, 5 years old scale the fencing around that pool and then ended up slipping into that pool,” Nehls said.

On Wednesday, a 1-year-old child was found unresponsive in a pool at a home near Jersey Village, according to Cy-Fair Fire Department.

All three drownings touched Deonesia Grays’ heart, who is a mother of two. Grays said she lost her daughter, Bria Harvey, on Memorial Day in 2005 at a southwest Houston apartment pool. The 4-year-old had never swum before but was eager to get her feet wet.

“I told myself I wouldn’t allow her to go until I was ready for her to go with me but when the other kids and the parents were ready to go, she was ready to go,” Grays recalled. “So I kind of relaxed what I said and allowed her to go.”

Grays said her curious daughter was ahead of her but being supervised by another parent.

“The parent asked her (Bria) to have a seat because a smaller kid had taken off running and the minute she turned her back my daughter jumped in,” she said.

The mother of two said she was walking to the pool with food and towels in hand when she heard the parent scream out her name. Bria did not survive.

“My story is going to help some person that looks like me and let them know that yeah it can happen. I was there but not physically there. She wasn’t unsupervised. It can happen,” she said.

Grays said she wants all parents to know it can happen to them too, though she hopes it never does. She created Bria’s House to spread awareness about child drownings.

“They just need to be more vigilant when it comes to their kids, especially in this time when kids will wander out into a pool or pond,” Grays said.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he’s also concerned about child drownings especially since the summer season has not yet begun.