Drowning demonstrates importance of water safety

MAHONING TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WKBN) — Mahoning Township police are calling the drowning death of 20-year-old Aaron Mahdee a tragic accident.

The 2012 Hubbard High School graduate’s body was recovered from a private quarry Monday night. A water safety instructor said the tragedy is a good time to stress how important water safety is for everybody.

Jay Rosenthal is a water safety instructor at Warren Harding High School.

“We want our students to be safe in the water, so we practice it, we teach it,” Rosenthal said.

He said it is important for every swimmer to know his or her abilities and not overestimate their skills.

Mahdee was swimming with a group of friends about 7:30 p.m. in a private quarry off Eric Drive. He went under the water and never resurfaced.

Authorities say Mahdee was an accomplished swimmer. But the water temperature was 42 degrees in the spot where Mahdee’s body was found, and rescue divers say his sudden plunge into such cold could have affected the ability to swim.

Divers spent nearly two hours searching for him. Mahoning Township Police Chief Jim Morris said the water in the quarry is “treacherously cold.”

The chief says it appears Mahdee knew how to swim and was trying to swim back to the shore, but the water was just too cold.

“If the water temperature is cold, then the body starts to lose heat. Basically, you’re trying to heat the body of water with your body,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said if you see someone drowning, call 911 first. He said someone should not go into the water unless they know how to do a water rescue.

“Is there something that you can throw to them? Is there some way you can get to them without endangering your life,” Rosenthal said.

For more information on water safety courses in the area, click here.

As for Mahdee, his former principal said he was part of the choir and Spanish Club. She said he was quiet, but he had a big heart.

“If someone was having a bad day or someone was upset, he would take that extra moment and that kindness to help someone else,” Hubbard High School principal Brandilyn Gough said.

The principal remembers him most for singing at Christmas and spring concerts.

“He was still a little bit quiet, but yet that was his opportunity to shine and be part of something in his comfort level and his zone,” Gough said.

One of Mahdee’s friends said he was the guy who had everybody laughing. The pair sat together at lunch.

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