Mom of Drowning Victim Speaks Out after Indictment of Swim Coach
Competitive swimmer’s mother talks life after the death of 13-year-old Elise
On June 20, 2016, 15 minutes into her warm-up for swim practice, teammates found Elise Cerami unresponsive at the bottom of a pool.
A little over a year since her death, one of Elise’s swim coaches, Tracey Anne Boyd, 49, has been indicted on a charge of abandonment and endangering of a child by criminal negligence, according to court records as reported on by the Star-Telegram.
The indictment says Boyd did not “watch or observe Elise Cerami while [Cerami] was swimming.”
“The charge against Tracey Boyd describes her conduct and we believe that the district attorney will devote the full resources of their office to the case against Boyd,” Lori Cerami, Elise’s mother, wrote in an email to Checkup Newsroom. “While the court system proceeds with the grand jury’s indictment, our efforts will continue in water safety and drowning prevention.”
Since Elise’s death, the Cerami family have become tireless advocates for drowning prevention. Both Lori and Bryce, Elise’s younger brother, participate in Cook Children’s Lifeguard Your Child campaign to stress the importance of adult supervision of children in the water at all times.
The family started the Swim4Elise Foundation as a way to educate young people on water safety through the Elise Cerami Memorial for camp and college swim scholarships. In collaborating with Swim4Elise volunteers, the foundation also developed to include Run4Elise, the 100 Lifeguard Challenge and Drowning Prevention Education for local daycare centers.
“Though the grief and loss are overwhelming, we are doing our best to make a positive change in water safety and our hearts go out to other families who have also lost a child to drowning,” Lori Cerami wrote.
Elise was a competitive swimmer for more than seven years and practiced as much as four hours on a given day. Although Elise’s death was ruled an accidental drowning by the Tarrant County medical examiner, Lori says one of the challenges her family has faced in heightening the message of water safety has been the rational by others that Elise must have been ill.
“Hence, parents and swimmers cannot relate to her story as their child is healthy, so this could never happen to them,” Lori wrote. “Unfortunately, this message creates a barrier, causing the community to disregard the important message of water safety and drowning prevention. Elise was a healthy kid, passing every annual physical with the same Cook Children’s physician over her lifetime. Though it is unimaginable, to believe this could happen to healthy kids, who can swim, we want the community to understand that drowning is completely silent. The best way to prevent drowning is to have active water watchers, regardless of the person’s swimming ability.”