After a Tragedy, Life Jackets at Camp

By Sarah Birnbaum

May 18, 2012

Christian Frechette

BOSTON — A grieving father is calling for legislation at the Massachusetts State House aimed at preventing child drownings.
In 2007, 4-year-old Chrisitian Frechette drowned in a lake while attending a town-run day camp in Sturbridge. His body was found in just over 3 feet of water, in an area that was supposed to be off-limits for young and inexperienced swimmers. He was not wearing a life jacket.
Christian's father, Derek Frechette, and town officials disagree over the details of what exactly happened that day. But Frechette is sure of one thing: Life jackets should be available for kids at summer camp.
"You know, I can’t have other kids drown. My son’s memory has to be for something else. He put me here to do this. I have to make sure I save other children," he said.
Frechette is pushing for a bill known as "Christian’s Law" that would require state- and town-run camps to test kids for their swimming ability and have life jackets on hand for all minors. Sen. Steven Brewer of Barre is co-sponsoring the bill. He says Frechette’s tragedy hit close to home.
“I had a brother who was 4 years old when he drowned as well, so the loss of a family member is something that's very visceral," Brewer said. "There’s a lot of activity in swimming areas. To make sure that we can actually be helpful to people is very important. When you save the life of a child, you save the world.”
Christian’s bill has passed in the Massachusetts Senate, and supporters say they’re hopeful it will pass in the House too and become law.

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