Updated May 6, 2021 - 7:07 pm
Two local boaters are raising money on their Facebook groups to help replenish the National Park Service’s free life jacket supply at Lake Mead National Recreation Area after a girl drowned Saturday.
“We want to take this horrible situation and provide a solution for future incidents,” according to a post announcing the effort.
Stacey Mock, 6, was pronounced dead Saturday evening after Metropolitan Police Department divers recovered her body from the lake. The Nevada Department of Wildlife said Stacey had been sharing a pool float with another child when high winds blew them from shore, causing them to drift out to deeper water.
Game wardens were able to rescue the second child, according to the Department of Wildlife. National Weather Service meteorologist John Adair said winds were blowing at around 20 to 24 mph at the lake on Saturday with 30 mph gusts.
“Once the wind picks up, there is little chance of anyone swimming out to retrieve the float, I don’t care how strong of a swimmer you are,” game warden James Mortimore said in a Monday statement.
Admins of the Facebook groups Las Vegas Fishing Club and Lake Mead Family Boaters Uncensored announced Tuesday the effort to buy new life jackets, which they will donate to the park service. Combined, the groups have more than 13,000 members.
“We want to make sure people are taken care of when they’re at the lake,” Dusty Feazell, 42, of Boulder City said.
Feazell, with the fishing group, and Guy Cohen, with the boaters group, are collecting money through May 31. Residents who wish to donate or would like more information can contact Feazell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Mead provides free life jackets that residents can check out for the day, according to the park service website. They are available at Boulder Beach, Cottonwood Cove and Katherine Landing.
Park service spokesman Greg Hauburger said there are five life-jacket cages at the three locations, and each can hold up to 30 jackets, but he did not say how many life jackets the agency currently has on hand.
“We are very thankful that people who love Lake Mead are taking care of their fellow visitors,” Hauburger said, estimating that about 400 lakegoers a year use the free life jackets.
Current supply ‘minimal’
Feazell called the park’s current life jacket supply “minimal” and said that even though his 12-year-old son knows how to swim, he asks everyone on his boat to wear one. Cohen and Feazell are also seeking life jacket donations from local stores, or wholesale rates to purchase them with they money they raise.
“The only goal is for this not to happen again and to get as many life jackets as we can out on these beaches for people to use,” Cohen said in a message to the Review-Journal. “There’s absolutely no financial goal on our side.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the pair had raised just over $2,000. The men plan to donate any money left over after purchasing the life jackets to the girl’s family.
“Being in Vegas, we care about our community,” Feazell said. “At the end of the day, everybody’s going to work together to make sure there’s jackets readily available.”