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Mother Drowns While Holding Toddler’s Head above Water to Save Him

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In an amazing story of heroism, a woman gave her life this week to save the life of her 2-year-old son by holding his head above water until he could be rescued.

33-year-old Chelsey Russell jumped into Lake Powell on Tuesday after her 2-year-old son fell into the water while on a moving houseboat. He was not wearing a life jacket and neither was Ms. Russell.

According to a news report, Russell grabbed her son and was able to hold his head above the water long enough for him to be rescued before she drowned and slipped further under the water.

A family member was able to untie a smaller boat to get to Russell and her son. However, though they were able to save the little boy, the mother had already gone unconscious and though CPR was performed by paramedic and family members, Russell had already died.

The 2-year-old was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center as a precaution and listed as being in stable condition at the time.

“A common denominator in more than 120 fatalities at Lake Powell in the last decades is that victims were not wearing life jackets,” said Meri Sias, Acting Chief Ranger at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. “While life jackets are required for children 12 years of age and under, all boaters on Lake Powell are encouraged to wear life jackets.”

According to a statement released by Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley law firm in Denver, Colorado, which Russel worked at:

“Chelsey was an amazing mother, an exceptional legal talent, an extraordinary athlete, a loyal and generous friend, and left us all better for knowing her. She is sorely missed.”

The law firm’s web page also stated:

Ms. Russell was born and raised in Denver. After graduating with a BSBA in General Business from the University of Denver, she worked her way from land associate to landman for a local oil and gas exploration and development company.

Ms. Russell received her JD from the University of Denver in 2011, where she was a contributor to the Race to the Bottom Blog, a nationally recognized student/faculty collaborative corporate governance blog. Ms. Russell is actively involved in her community and enjoys running marathons, hiking, skiing, and spending time with her family.

While I am very sorry to hear that his mother lost her life, compared to so many stories we read about where parents are cruel to their children, this one really strikes a chord with me. I’m sure Ms. Russell will be greatly missed, and she leaves behind two young children and her husband.

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