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13News Now Investigates: Drownings kill at least 12 children every year in Virginia

900 adults and children died from drowning in the last decade in Virginia.

NORFOLK, Va. — Tragedy hit Virginia Beach this Independence Day weekend with two separate drownings.

It's a story told almost every year at the beach.

But a 13News Now investigation found disparities in who is drowning.

Accidental drownings kill at least 12 children every year in Virginia, according to annual data from the Office of the Medical Examiner

Credit: Dan Kennedy / WVEC

But it's not just children.

Over the last decade (2011-2020), accidental drownings killed 900 people of all ages in Virginia.

Credit: Dan Kennedy / WVEC

It happened again this past weekend in the Chesapeake Bay when a 12-year-old boy and a 44-year-old man both drowned Sunday.

There are grim realities when it comes to the dangers of water.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for young people. Only car crashes kill more children each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 80 percent of people who die from drowning are male.

And Black children between the ages of 5 and 14 are 2.6 times more likely to drown than white children.

It's a racial disparity that has existed for years.

The International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education wrote about this topic in 2020. The authors pointed to past segregation at public pools as having ripple effects still today.

Drowning is silent and quick, but it's also preventable. 

The Virginia Department of Health reviewed drowning cases in children from 2014-2016 and found that 94-percent of the deaths were preventable. 

Below are resources for not just parents, but anyone who spends time in the water: 

CHKD: Water Safety and Drowning Prevention 

VDH: Drowning Prevention Fact Sheet

CDC: Drowning Prevention

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