Mar 072013

Phoenix firefighters and the Drowning Coalition of Arizona teamed up to put on a free drowning prevention event in Phoenix.

One of the groups at the event dedicates their free time to raising water safety awareness after losing a loved one.

Water gun fights, twirling on inner tubes and splashing the summer away, a day on the water should leave everyone with a smile.

But too often, hearts are broken when a life is lost to the water.

“I just don’t want another family to walk in my shoes because they’re not very comfortable shoes to walk in,” said Shannon Liebrock.

Five years ago Liebrock lost her 21-year-old nephew Ryan Thomas when he went swimming at Saguaro Lake.

“They were on a boat and they were getting ready to dock the boat for the day. He was maybe 15 feet from the shore, said to his buddy he wanted to cool off one more time, went off the boat and he never resurfaced,” said Liebrock.

Thomas was an above average swimmer, yet tragedy still struck.

His family started the Ryan Thomas Foundation and Saturday they offered information at the “Getting to the Pointe of Water Safety” event at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak resort.

They helped people like Claudia Corral and her 5-year-old daughter, Sierra.

“They’re here doing something great for the community and we’re here to support as well,” said Corral.

For many of us, when we think of water safety, we just think of the pool, but the Ryan Thomas Foundation aims to bring awareness to safety at the lake as well.

“Three clicks of a life vest would have saved a life. Take two seconds, click those life vests on and save your family from the heartache that we’ve had to go through,” said Liebrock.

Thomas’ family is now working on a program to loan life vests to swimmers and boaters at local lakes.

For more information about the Ryan Thomas Foundation, visit

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