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After father of LSU baseball pitcher dies tubing, family calls for safety measures at popular Tiki Tubing business
BATON ROUGE – The wife of a man who drowned while tubing down the Amite River is trying to raise awareness of how dangerous she believes the activity is. The mom of three boys, including a LSU baseball pitcher would like to see more safety measures put in place. She doesn't want other children to lose their dad too.
“Every morning, every night I struggle with it. I struggle with his loss,” said Lisa Hilliard.
Sitting in her living room Tuesday surrounded by pictures of her late husband Keith, Lisa can't shake what happened to him.
"I can see his drowning. It's so vivid in my mind,” said Lisa.
In late June, Lisa, her husband and two of their sons were Tiki Tubing in Denham Springs for the first time when her husband's tube suddenly flipped.
"He walked five steps and disappeared. Walking in the water he disappeared,” recalls Lisa.
Lisa believes it was a strong current that took Keith down the river.
"I screamed to my son get your daddy, go get your daddy don't worry about me,” said Lisa.
The family ended up finding Keith and carried him to shore, then performed CPR on him for 40 minutes.
"I could hear the water in his body with each breathe I gave him,” said Lisa.
But the 53-year-old father of three didn't make it.
"When you wake up now every morning without your spouse, your best friend, your kids father you know it's hard to swallow,” said Lisa.
Keith isn't the only one who has drowned while Tiki Tubing this summer. About a month later, another man lost his life and at least 30 people have had to get rescued out of the water.
"There are no signs warning you and no buoys to let you know stay out of this area,” said Lisa.
Lisa is pushing for more safety measures to be put in place at the attraction. She said the owner made her feel safe before getting in the water giving her family one warning, “stay to the right and that’s the only instruction we got.”
”I do think that there needs to be something put into place regulating how this is operated,” said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.
On Monday, Ricks told WBRZ he's going to bring up the possibility of creating an ordinance to provide safety measures surrounding tubing to the council members on August 12 that way it can be supervised.
"Really just to have something of a law because right now we have nothing,” said Ricks.
"We're going to see what we can do. No, no, no. Time is now,” responded Lisa who wants to see talk put into action sooner rather than later.
“There have been too many rescues, too many fatalities let’s close this thing down for a second. Let’s clean it up, let’s make it right for our citizens,” said Lisa.
She doesn't want anyone else to deal with heartbreak her family is dealing with right now.
"He was such a great man, he was such a pure soul and he had a big heart,” said Lisa.
WBRZ tried to reach out to the owner of Tiki Tubing but did not hear back. The owner has shut down the business multiple times this summer due to high water.
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