(Boston) – Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre), Representative Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) and Representative Todd M. Smola (R-Palmer) today announced that Christian’s Law, a bill filed on behalf of a grieving family in memory of their son, Christian Frechette, who drowned while attending summer camp in Sturbridge, has been signed into law.
“We have been working on getting this law passed for a long time and I am very proud and very happy that it has been signed into law,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer, the sponsor of the bill. “One child drowns every minute across the globe making drowning the second leading cause of death of children under the age of 5. This bill will ensure that at-risk swimmers are identified and that proper precautions are taken to decrease drowning and ultimately save lives.”
“I truly want to thank the Massachusetts lawmakers, specifically Senator Brewer, Representatives Smola and Gobi and Governor Deval Patrick, for making life safer for children of the Commonwealth with the signing of Christian’s Law. Today Massachusetts, tomorrow the nation,” said Derek Frechette, Christian’s father.
The bill, An Act improving water safety for children in the Commonwealth, requires all summer camps in Massachusetts to test swimmers at the beginning of the summer to determine their swimming ability level and to have on hand a coast guard approved life jacket for every at-risk swimmer.
“This legislation ensures the safety of our children by matching individual swimming ability to the right swimming area,” said Governor Patrick. “This will help reduce risks for young children so they can take full advantage of the many outdoor recreational areas available to them in the Commonwealth.”
Additionally, the bill states that no recreational camp for children shall prohibit a parent or guardian from providing camps with an approved personal flotation device to be used by the minor for the duration of their attendance at camp. This provision is unique nationally in empowering parents to ensure personal protection for their children.
“This law adds a level of safety measures for children who enjoy water activities,” said Smola.
“The memory of Christian Frechette will live on through this initiative. The Frechette family, along with many volunteers and advocates, worked tirelessly to make this law a reality. Governor Patrick has been a wonderful advocate, and it is a proud moment to see him sign this bill.”
“I was honored to work with Senator Brewer, Representative Smola and the Frechette family. Summer is a time to enjoy water activities and this law will protect children and hopefully prevent unnecessary tragedy,” Gobi continued.
Brewer has been filing the bill since 2008 at the request of the Frechette family after their son, Christian, died after he fell into the lake while attending summer camp. When his parents dropped him off that morning, they tried to leave a life jacket for him, but the camp said it was against their policy. Christian was only 4 years old.
“Derek Frechette has been a fierce and tireless advocate for this bill,” Brewer continued. “To lose a child is one of the deepest pains a parent can suffer. I am happy that this bill has been signed into law to prevent future tragedies.”
Additionally, the bill states that amphibious landing vehicles, such as Duck Boats, must have one, easily accessible, Coast Guard life jacket, for each passenger less than 10 years of age.