Parents of drowning victims hope to make the beach a safer place

Published: Aug. 1, 2019 at 7:49 PM EDT
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It’s a tragedy that has been happening too often in 2019.

On Thursday, the parents of two Lake Michigan drowning victims met for the very first time.

Yolanda Mason and Joe Harkerload walk the same path. Both of their sons died after drowning at Washington Park Beach in Michigan City.

But that’s not the only thing they share in common. Both said they hate coming to that beach.

For Yolanda, it is because her 17-year-old son, Rah-Hem,


As for Joe, his 20-year-old son, Slater, was knocked off the pier by a wave in December 2018.

On Thursday, the two parents met for the first time since each losing their son, and despite their heartbreak, both said they hope standing together and sharing their stories will help make a difference in someone else’s life.

"I will make a difference for my son, for his son. For the other ones that lost their lives out here. You're going to make it known when this weather is too bad to come out here. You are going to make it known when the signs needs to be visible. That speaker they have out there now, it needs to be heard. The people need to hear you say get out of the water. It needs to be more people out here. The lifeguards need to be out here to help these people," Mason said.

So far, there have been 27 drownings in Lake Michigan in 2019.

Both parents say they hope their message will get through to others and help improve the safety on the beach, reducing that number.

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