Radio Report: Rep. Peter Abbarno to introduce ‘Zack’s Law’ signage bill to prevent cold-water shock drownings


A state lawmaker from Lewis County plans to introduce legislation to bring attention to the hazards of cold-water shock following the drowning of a young man last spring near Chehalis. John Sattgast reports.

 Radio Report Transcript

SATTGAST: Zack Rager had jumped several times from the Willapa Hills Trail train bridge into the Chehalis River during the summer months. But when he did it while walking with friends on a warm day in March, the 18-year-old didn’t realize how cold the water would be at that time of year. Zach suffered cold-water shock – a condition where muscles freeze, and victims lose consciousness. His body was found 28 days later.

On Wednesday, Centralia Representative Peter Abbarno met with Rager’s family and other local officials at the old railroad bridge to announce plans to introduce Zack’s Law.

ABBARNO: “We need written warnings. We need people to understand the actual dangers of some of these bodies of water. It may not be enough to say, ‘don’t swim.’ It may not be enough to say, ‘don’t jump.’ We need to let people know that even though you may be a good swimmer, cold-water shock can impact any swimmer.”

SATTGAST: Zack’s Law would require state government agencies and local governments to erect cold-water shock warning signs when replacing or erecting signs near dangerous water hazards. It would also create a mechanism for the state to accept private donations to post cold-water shock signs.

Zack’s stepfather, Lee Hines, said his son did everything he could during his short life to help others.

HINES: “Even with him not here, he’d want to continue to do for other people. And so, with this bill, it’s going to continue to help save lives.

SATTGAST: Abbarno plans to pre-file the bill in December, in time for the 2022 legislative session, which begins January 10th.

John Sattgast, the state Capitol.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
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