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Updated on March 21, 2014
 Drowning of Kevin
Drowning of Kevin | Source


I remembered the day so well. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful warm day in JuneIM. We were so excited, like all kids are, when they are finally on a three month vacation from school! We were planning to have a beach party at the cove, and see our cute male friends! We lived on Willoughby Spit, in Norfolk Va, which was a cool place to live. We used to head out to Little Bay to swim out by the old ferry that had been abandoned years before. We often had great times, crabbing off of Miles Pier and just swimming in the bay. It was a time of youth and innocence..

Carole Barry my new friend, was a blast. She looked like a typical California blond with long wavy curls and big blue eyes. All the boys liked her. She was a lot of fun! We heard that Jimmy Bradley our neighbor down on 5th street had invited our classmates Kevin McCabe and Michael Mahahey to spend the night.They were our classmates. We were in 7th grade at Holy Trinity. It was exciting to have them visiting us in Willoughby

We all decided this was a great opportunity to swim and party at the Cove. Anyway we hurried home, and changed into our bathing suits. Grabbing some hot dogs, chips, and pop, we met with the boys at the beach.

We were all 12 years old. Carole and I were just noticing boys! I was glad she was my friend! We shared our secrets, and I knew it was going to be the best summer yet!

Kevin was a sweet boy. He had dark short hair, and freckles, and was shy. I had known the boys ever since 2nd grade.. I was tanned usually from being in the sun so much as a child. and I loved to swim. I had a secret crush on Michael, He had dark blond hair and big blue eyes. He was so cute, but he never noticed me. There was a new boy at the beach.They called him "Leprechaun". He did kinda look like one! I'd never met him before. He was a total mystery.

Carole and I were so happy to be with the boys. We jumped into the water, splashing and diving underwater.

I couldn't wait to show off my swimming skills. Carole and I swam out to the cove which was a good distance from the beach. Soon the boys followed. We took turns swimming back and forth from the pier to the cove.

A short while later, I swam back to shore. Leprechaun had decided not to swim, so I sat next to him and we talked and laughed. I then raised my head and looked out towards the water.

Carole, Jimmy, and Michael were in sight but I couldn't see Kevin! I said, "Leprechaun, where's Kevin"? He said, "Oh, he went under the water about 15 minutes ago, and he never came up.

"I was shocked, I yelled "Why didn't you tell us"? I ran out to the water, and swam furiously to the other kids in the water, yelling "Kevin's under the water"

Leprechaun ran to call for help! We began diving under the water, but we were unable to rescue Kevin..

We kept diving and diving, but we couldn't find Kevin.

We were so scared.. I felt so bad for him. One of the kids, ran off to call for help. Later the rescue divers came and found his body! I was shocked at his appearance, as they pulled him out of the water and onto the pier.

He didn't look, at all like himself... His skin was pure white, and there was no life left in his little body..

It was a sad time for us. I felt deeply sorry for Kevin and his family. He had many brothers and sisters, that would miss him. I never understand why he'd even gone swimming that day.. I found out, later that Kevin didn't even know how to swim!

If only we had known that. We never would have taken him swimming to the cove..the water was way over our heads, but we knew how to swim. Death was a new experience for me..

Kevin was Irish Catholic, so our priest held a beautiful Mass for Kevin. I'll always remember that sweet Irish smile of his..and it was a memory I'd never forget, that summer day.

A year or so later, my friends and I were swimming out in Little Bay. Someone had overturned a boat, and it was floating upside down.. It had been anchored..Five children, including myself, began foolishly diving under the boat..We would swim to the other side of the boat..and surface.. It was my turn to swim under the boat...

Unfortunately, as I began swimming, I couldn't reach the other side..The children kept pushing the boat over me.. I was beginning to panic, and needed to come up for air. I kept desperately pushing at the boat with my hands, to shove it out of the way!..Just when, I thought I was going have to give up and drown, the boat was pushed aside..It was with great relief, that I surfaced, and took a deep breathe, and never again, did I swim under anyone's boat! I had a strong sense, of what Kevin must have experienced before he drowned...


One day, after school, in late May, I went home, and I decided I wanted to go swimming, and work on my tan. I took my blanket, and sunglasses and headed for the beach..I decided to go to Big Bay as we called the Chesapeake Bay..

It was five minutes from home. I walked the short distance, and walked barefoot, onto the silky sand.. I loved the feel of the sand on my feet, and the gentle breeze that caressed my face. It was heavenly to lay on my back, and relax under the warmth of the sun.. I spread the blanket, and was dosing off, when I heard a piercing scream.

A desperate mom, was running up and down the beach, screaming that her children were drowning..and to please save her children. I sat up, and scanned the beach. Some of the adults, were also sitting up and they saw the struggling children, and then they laid back down on their blankets.. I jumped to my feet, and ran to the mom. The mother was screaming, I can't swim, Please help save my children!

I gazed at the water, and saw two small children struggling desperately in the water.. I swam to the girls, grabbing hold of both of them, but Immediately they tightly grabbed my neck, and pulled me under..I couldn't break their hold, on my neck, and again I thought, "This is it, I'm going to drown for sure, this time!" At that moment, two wonderful angels, came to our rescue! Suddenly the pressure on my neck was broken. As I surfaced. I looked into my neighbor's face, Mr. Ebner, and another unknown adult, who came to save us!.

The three of us, finally pulled the little girls, safely back to shore, and into the arms of their grateful mom..

The little girls, were only three, and four years old.. I couldn't believe the strength they'd had, while nearly drowning me in the water. Again my life was spared, and I learned a valuable lesson, about trying to rescue others.

Never try to rescue, someone without a barrier between you and them...and that includes rescuing small children! Mom's and father's should always keep a close watch on their children, and please learn to swim. If you don't, you could easily lose your children! Its so easy to step into a drop off in shallow water, o float off into the current...

This time, there was a happy ending..

Sailing at Little Bay
Sailing at Little Bay | Source


Submit a Comment

  • tnderhrt23 profile image


    7 years ago

    Donna, this is a heart wrenching read! You tell the tale well, with a natural voice, and a tragic tale it is...I am so sorry for Kevin, his family and his friends...thank you for sharing this!


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