After the drowning death of their three-year-old grandson several years ago, one family continues to make sure his legacy goes on, and that, other families are spared similar tragedies.
Wyatt Dale Terasas was just three years old when he died on July 7th, 2013. His family has been providing life jackets to kids to promote water safety ever since.
July 7th, it was a beautiful day. The swimming area at Possum Kingdom Lake was filled with families celebrating the 4th of July weekend. Three-year-old Wyatt, his sister, and dad were playing by the water when his dad left them on the shore to go back into the water. But he didn’t know Wyatt followed him and in just 5 seconds, he was gone.
“He turned to find Wyatt and the water was so murky he didn’t see him. So, they looked for him. Rescuers came and they found him and Wyatt didn’t come home that day. About that time I got the phone call and it’s one of those that nobody wants to get,” said Tracey Terasas Wyatt’s grandmother.
As soon as they received the news that Wyatt had passed, Wyatt’s father said they had to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“I promised him right then that I would and so we lost Wyatt on July 7th, 2013 and September 2nd we were out at the Possum Kingdom handing out life jackets and so we started from then just trying to, tragedy but trying to turn it where we can help other families,” said Terasas.
Life jackets are not inexpensive so how do they pay for them?
“People donate money. Different companies have donated but individuals have donated and we get the life jackets from TRC here in Graham and they are special ordered. They have Wyatt’s logo on them because we want when they see the jackets when they see the logo we want them to remember Wyatt,” said Terasas.
Tracey partners with the City of Graham and the Chamber of Commerce.
“Heart-warming to be a part of it and just how it continues to grow every year and the awareness to get to Wyatt Dale has just been amazing and the community support has just been awesome,” said Jenea Knight Graham Chamber of Commerce Tourism Department Manager.
Tracey says their main goal is to educate people so everyone can help prevent more deaths.
“We try to give tools and awareness to families and we are watching other kids as well when we go places and we are trying to teach people like through the water safety tags or through the water watcher tags that we got through Cooks that it is our responsibility to watch ours and to help with others,” said Terasas.
Although Wyatt is gone, Tracey and his family say his spirit and legacy lives on every time a child puts on a life jacket.
This years fundraising event is on Saturday at the YMCA Camp Grady Spruce at the Possum Kingdom. They will hand out jackets along with Water Watcher tags. When adults are wearing them, it means they are responsible for watching all of the kids without being distracted before passing it to another adult after 15 minutes.