My curiosity led me to a search, where I came upon a website that rattled my stomach. There was a picture of a 7-year-old girl -- a vibrant, natural beauty who looked around the age of my own daughter. She -- the sweet-faced, smiling child in the photo -- was Virginia Graeme Baker. A twin sister and the youngest of five daughters born to Nancy and James Baker IV, son of former Secretary of State James Baker III. A classmate, a friend, a neighbor, a student, a good swimmer and someone who had lots of love, support and potential on her side.
All five girls had joined their mother for a mid-afternoon graduation party at a friend's house in June 2002. Events happened quickly. A sister of Graeme (that's what they called her) pulled Nancy to the hot tub, where Graeme was sprawled at the bottom. Nancy jumped in, but she was no match against the force of the drain's suction. Two men took over and broke the drain in order to release Grame's body from the suction. Graeme was rushed to a hospital but was dead on arrival.During her profound grieving, Nancy Baker consulted with her father-in-law on the tragedy and decided to make pool and spa safety -- particularly anti-entrapment drain covers -- her mission. More than three years of dedication and activism resulted in the approval of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
One rarely "gets over" the death of a loved one, especially if it's a premature death. While Nancy is still haunted by the image of Graeme's listless body, she continues on. Driven by Graeme's once-contagious spirit, Nancy hopes to prevent others from ever having to experience the horrors of that day and its everlasting outcome.
Learn more about the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, anti-entrapment drain covers and the issues surrounding this controversial topic. To join in the ongoing and current discussion on this and related issues, please visit the Pool and Patio Forum -- we want to hear from you!
Photo Courtesy of the Baker family