Family hopes efforts will help reduce number of child drownings in Florida

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths for young children. Now one local family is doing everything it can to change that troubling statistic. 
 

Channel 9 anchor Vanessa Welch found out how those parents are taking their own traumatic experience and using it to help save lives.
 
Just an hour after smiling for a photo in Polk County, 2-year-old Abby Grace Warren fell into a swimming pool when no one was looking.
 
Rachel Warren thought her husband was watching Abby Grace, and he thought his wife had an eye on her. They found Abby Grace facedown in the water.
 
Michael Warren pulled his daughter out and started CPR -- it worked.    
 
"I think it had a little help from God," Michael Warren said.
 
Doctors said it is a miracle that she survived and made a full recovery. They said it is extremely rare.   
 
 So far this year, 45 children have drowned in Florida. Nineteen of those drowning deaths were in central Florida.   
 
"There is so much guilt and so many emotions, and we would have changed a lot of things if we could do it all over again," said Rachel Warren.
 
She said her biggest regret is not putting Abby Grace in survival swim lessons.
 
Dr. Harvey Barnett created Infant Swim Resource 48 years ago.
 
His program teaches children as young as 6 months old to float so they can save themselves. 
           
As they get older, they learn to swim to the pool wall. 
 
"If there is no way out (the baby) rolls over on his back then flips back over to continue looking for a way out," said Barnett.
 
ISR costs about $500.
 
Abby Grace's family is raising money for scholarships for parents who can't afford lessons, saying they want to prevent other families from going through what they did.
 
Reducing child drownings is also a top priority for the Florida Department of Children and Families, which is working with the Warrens and others to spread the word about water safety.
 
The Warrens hope more people will come forward with money or time to help ensure more children get ISR lessons.
             
They said if Abby Grace had the lessons when she was younger, she would have known how to float and avoided a near-drowning.
 
ISR has swim lessons year-round.
 
You can also call 211 to find swim lessons and CPR classes in your area.

More Information: Abby Grace's Hope, Inc.