Vigil scheduled for Red Arrow tragedy victim
Sunday, May 19, 2013 7:00 PM
MARINETTE - It's been nearly three years since 9-year-old Kelvin Motsinger of Menominee drowned at Red Arrow Park in Marinette. The anniversary of the tragedy continues to affect his family but perhaps no one more than his now 13-year-old sister Natalie who was swimming with him at the time.
The two were near a drop-off where the depth goes from just a few feet to about eight feet. At the time, witnesses said Kelvin went under, grabbed onto his sister and tried to get to shallower water. She was able to free herself but still needed help from another swimmer. By the time Natalie reached shore, Kelvin was nowhere to be seen. Natalie raced to her father and calls for help prompted other swimmers to join in the search.
The handling of the rescue effort prompted an investigation that resulted in a shakeup on the Rescue Squad. It also resulted in buoys and warning signs being put up. However, there are still no lifeguards at the popular swimming beach.
With the summer swimming season about to begin, Kelvin's mom and sister are still struggling with their feelings of loss and are hoping a short, solemn ceremony next weekend will bring them and others a sense of peace. Plans are to have a balloon and lantern release at 8 p.m. Saturday from the beach.
Maranda Decker, Calvin's mom, explains, "My daughter asked me to do this. She wanted some way to get her brother a letter. I think it would help. For her it would be some kind of closure."
Loss is nothing new to Decker, explaining that she had lost five family members in one year. But the loss of her son is something she struggles with each and every day.
"Basically for us it's been one day at a time," she said. "Going back to the area it happened is probably going to be the hardest. This will be my first time going there in almost three years."
Decker is urging anyone who has lost a loved one to show up on the beach Saturday, not just those who knew her son.
"It's not just meant for Kelvin. It's meant for anyone who has ever lost someone," she said. "This is for the community. We're not doing it for just one person."
Visiting the beach where her son lost his precious, young life will undoubtedly be an emotional experience but Decker said she and her daughter need to move ahead. Looking back on that tragic day stirs a lot of "what ifs". Although Decker was not at the beach with her children that day, their father was. It's something no parent ever wants to go through.
After giving the situation a lot of thought, Decker urged all parents to make sure their children know how to swim.
"For me, I believe that if you can't touch bottom, then you stop," she said. "But definitely parents should continuously watch their kids, preferably on the beach and not in the parking lot."