Early Saturday morning, authorities recovered the bodies of a mother, her son and a family friend’s son from a St. Claire County lake. The mother, Kathy Baxmeyer, 40, had taken her son, Kadin Baxmeyer, 7, and her son’s friend, Steven “Austin” Baum, 6, out to celebrate her son’s birthday.
By midnight on Friday, Austin’s mother had been unable to get in contact with Kathy Baxmeyer. Worried, she reported her son as missing to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. When authorities arrived at the Baxmeyer residence, family members were asleep and under the impression that Kathy and the boys were still at the movie they had planned on seeing for the birthday celebration.
Upon finding boots and gloves near a lake by the residence, police used dogs to track the smell from the items. Investigators had their suspicions confirmed when the dogs led them to the water’s edge. Diving teams from several fire departments worked for hours before recovering the bodies in 12 feet of water.
Authorities suspect that the boys made their way out onto the icy lake and the mother followed, trying to save them. At this point, all three deaths have been ruled an accident and no charges have been made.
According to the CDC, in 2005, there were 3,582 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day. In Illinois, from 1989 to 1998, there was an average of 138 drownings each year. More than one in four fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Nonfatal drownings can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (i.e., permanent vegetative state).
Accidental drownings can be the result of negligence, and family members may have a claim for damages resulting from wrongful death, or serious injury. The law firm of WWF&G represents several families in these types of claims, currently including the families of a family of four (Mom, Dad and Two Children) who were tragically killed when their motor vehicle went into a lake due to negligent design of the lake and roadway; a swimming pool incident involving negligent supervision; and a drowning at Holiday Shores Illinois resulting from lifeguard negligence and untimely response. If you or your family has been injured as a result of a similar incident, please do not hesitate contact us and make a FREE CONSULTATION at 1-800-WWFGLAW or 618-462-1077.