A Burlington father is speaking out to prevent other parents from going through what he's had to experience the last 3 years.
Bruce Seifer lost his son, Bentley, 3 years ago this week. He says, he and his family are trying to move on and he doesn't speak publicly about his son very much anymore.
But after 3 people drowned in our area in the last week and a half, he contacted ABC22/FOX44 News to tell his story.
“My dreams for Bentley were to grow up and be a healthy boy and be a contributing member of society and be happy,” said Bruce Steifer about his son, Bentley.
Bentley, 12, was an all-star baseball player in Burlington. He stood on the pitcher’s mound for the Reds, his little league team.
“He was a typical 12-year old boy who loved to be outside in nature,” said his father, Bruce.
Bentley Seifer swam in the Bolton Potholes twice the week he died. He drowned there on July 12th, 2011.
“The water is wild and people need to be careful,” explained Seifer.
Bruce says he relives his son's death every time another person dies in swimming holes.
This summer is no exception.
In early June, a 41-year old man drowned in Middlesex. Followed by, two Plattsburgh teens who drowned in the Ausable River in Wilmington, New York on June 26th. Two days later, a woman was found in the Huntington Gorge.
Bruce took those deaths as an opportunity to tell his story.
“It could rain in one area and 10 miles away it couldn't have rained or it could have rained 3 inches. They don't have rain gauges in the all the rivers, it really depends. People really need to be careful,” said Seifer.
Bruce works with a Swimming Hole Safety Committee to prevent more people from drowning.
The committee is hosted by the Vermont Health Department. It works with government and private partners, including the National Weather Service, to provide advance warnings about swimming conditions.
“If you're going swimming with somebody and they're on the other side of the river and you can't hear them, don't go in, go swim someplace else. And also, bring a rope, a sturdy rope so if something happens, you're prepared,” advised Seifer.
Other tips he shares:
- kKnow the water's depth, speed and how it is impacted by rain fall.
- Ask residents if it has rained recently.
- Avoid swimming above or under waterfalls.
- Swim sober and never alone.
- The state of Vermont recommends swimming at managed swim areas and know your abilities.
It's Bruce Seifer's mission: to save lives and make something good out of losing his whole world.
“He was the center of our life,” remembered Seifer.