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State legislation filed in honor of Je'Sani Smith

Je’Sani Smith
Posted at 12:29 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 13:43:15-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — State Rep. Todd Hunter filed legislation this week to designate April as Beach Safety and Rip Current Awareness month.

Hunter took to Twitter Friday to make the announcement, saying quote, "honored to announce my first piece of legislation."

The piece was filed in honor of Je'Sani smith, a Corpus Christi teen who died nearly 2 years ago from a rip current.

House Concurrent Resolution 46 is an effort to help visitors in Texas beaches better understand the dangers of rip currents.

"We can save lives by helping the people who flock to Texas beaches for recreation understand how to recognize and respond to rip currents," Rep. Hunter said. "This designation will allow for the development of public awareness and safety campaigns each April."

As KRIS 6 News has reported, in April of 2019, 18-year-old Je'Sani Smith was swept away by a rip current at Whitecap Beach. Although the King High School athlete was considered a good swimmer, unfortunately, the rip currents were stronger.

In Je'Sani's memory, his parents, Kiwana and Terry Denson, created the Je'Sani Smith Foundation to carry their son's legacy and promote beach safety awareness.

Members typically visit area beaches during the holidays, or when there are larger crowds to promote beach safety awareness.

In November of 2019, Kiwana Denson visited Austin to speak to state agencies about adding rip current signage and alerts for people who visit the coastline.

"I feel like it's an obligation," Denson told KRIS 6 News. "I can't sit back and continue to watch other lives be lost when ... it's preventable."

In Friday's release, Kiwana Denson expressed her feelings about the filed legislation.

"Designating April as Beach Safety and Rip Current Awareness Month is a critical step by the Texas Legislature in empowering beachgoers - from highlighting visual cues for rip currents to stressing the need to understand beach flags - to be better prepared for a day at the beach," Kiwana Denson said. "A month dedicated to this education will help Texas improve unwanted fatalities and injuries at our beaches by increasing efforts to provide visitors with a full understanding of beach hazards."