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Fire department urges swimmers to wear life jackets amid high levels at Grapevine Lake, following drowning

“One more step and that one more step, you can find yourself underwater, completely submerged,” Grapevine Fire Chief Darrell Brown said.

GRAPEVINE, Texas — The Grapevine Fire Department hosted a drowning prevention demonstration Friday, after a 33-year-old man drowned and died at Grapevine Lake Tuesday.

The man had been swimming with family members and was not wearing a life jacket, Grapevine Fire said.

The water level at Grapevine Lake is extremely high. At last check, it was sitting at just under 9.5 feet above normal. Picnic tables are completely underwater. And it’s impossible to tell where the solid ground ends and deeper water begins.

“You’re just out here with your family and you’re splashing and having a good time. And I know we’re all water watchers (when it comes to the kids). But what about the adult? This was a 33-year-old gentleman that drowned this week,” fire chief Darrell Brown said.

During Friday's demonstration, two Grapevine firefighters slowly began walking into Grapevine Lake – only one of them was wearing a life jacket. The idea was to simulate a couple of friends or family members casually heading into deeper water to cool off.

Once the pair got to the area where the water drops off, the firefighter wearing the life jacket stayed afloat, while the one without a life jacket sunk into the water.

The fire department’s dive team was on hand to ensure Friday’s demonstration occurred safely.

“One more step and that one more step, you can find yourself underwater, completely submerged,” the fire chief said. “When somebody steps in one of these drop-offs, and they’re suddenly submerged, we don’t know where they went. You don’t know where they went if you’re here having fun with them. “

In addition, Brown pointed out that lake water is dark, making it difficult to see anything below the surface. 

The Grapevine Fire Department is encouraging all residents – regardless of age – to take swim lessons and wear life jackets.

“When you go under and get that first big gulp of water, that’s many times where drownings occur, right then and there,” Brown said. “You’re so panicked when you go underwater that you inhale because you’re scared. And it’s over because now you have water where you’re normally expecting air.”

The Grapevine Fire Department has recorded the following drownings over the last five years:

  • 2017 - 7
  • 2018 – 3
  • 2019 – 6
  • 2020 – 4
  • 2021 – 1

Because the lake level is so high, many of the life jackets that are usually available for Grapevine Lake swimmers to borrow are unavailable because the poles that the life jackets hang on are submerged in water.