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June 15 - July 5, 2019 |

Relentlessly local coverage of Southern Chandler and our neighboring communities

As temperatures rise, pools become loaded guns BY JIM WALSH Staff Writer

As temperatures begin to soar, drowning prevention advocates are warning that the backyard swimming pool poses about the same threat to toddlers as a loaded gun. But the pool can also become a deadly weapon for adults, as demonstrated annually by a chronic toll of avoidable deaths. Far fewer children are drowning in Arizona than 30 years ago — when the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona formed to spearhead safety campaigns. Nevertheless, the prevention advocates say their goal of zero drownings remains largely unrealized — even if Scottsdale hit this elusive target last year. In a society full of distractions, they warn, complacency remains a chronic problem. Statistics show a regular pattern of children and adults perishing throughout the East Valley and across the state each year, their deaths changing the lives of grieving relatives and even first responders forever. Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe recorded 18 fatal drownings last year in 63 water-re-

Lana Whitehead of SWIMkids USA in Mesa is president of a national organization that advocates, along with many local pediatricians, teaching infants how to swim. Here she’s working with 7-month-old Kinsley Sky Harper (Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer)

lated incidents, according to the Children’s Safety Zone website. Phoenix recorded an-

Before she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, 7-year-old Leighton Accardo of Chandler loved playing baseball and her team has rallied around her during her ordea. (Cronkite News)

17 fatal drownings in 49 water-related incidents. Phoenix had 14 fatal drownings in 2017 in 55 water-related incidents. The number of adults drowning was higher or equal to the number of children in all East Valley cities as well as Phoenix. The adult drowning problem is far different than the classic case of a toddler tragically going under in the pool. Drowning prevention advocates urge adults to swim with another person, to not over-estimate their prowess in the pool and to limit the use of alcohol and other impairing substances around water. They say physical emergencies can inflate the numbers, such as a victim suffering a heart attack or stroke. Because of cooler than normal temperatures, some prevention advocates believe the summer pool season has been off to a slow start. So far this year, two adults have drowned in Mesa, one adult has drowned in Chandler, one adult has drowned in Gilbert, four adults

other 11 deaths in 56 water-related incidents. In 2017, the same East Valley cities recorded


DROWNINGS on page 10

Baby booties for migrant toddlers and shoes for their older siblings and parents are among the items of clothing that various East Valley churches collect for distribution to the dozens of families who come to them through ICE. (Devan Sauer/Contributor)

Teammates rally around Chandler churches help Chandler cancer victim, 7 as immigrants surge BY SEBASTIAN EMANUEL Cronkite News

With her head freshly shaved, and her friends providing a protective cocoon, 7-year-old Leighton Accardo of Chandler looked down at her wrist and read the words on her bracelet. “You are strong. You are brave. You got this.” That moment on May 28 told the story of a young player battling her toughest opponent yet — with an all-girls baseball team there for continuous support. “Knowing that she has so many people that love her and care for her and show up and do this,” said her father, Jeremy Accardo. “This” was a head-shaving party for Leighton, who has been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Surrounding her were teammates from the Peaches, an all-girls baseball team that is part of the East Val-

ley Baseball league. The league is a true community. Leighton’s mother, Carly, started and continued to grow the league’s all-girls baseball teams, of which there are 12 out of 89 teams. Leighton helped start the Peaches. The difficult news hit the Accardo family this spring when they took Leighton into the emergency room after she said that her stomach hurt. Doctors took a CT scan. “They discovered multiple masses throughout her abdomen, in her liver and on her lungs,” Carly Accardo said. “They sent us to the children’s hospital and she was later diagnosed after the biopsies with germ cell tumors.” Germ cell tumors are growths that form from reproductive cells and may be cancerous or noncancerous, according to Leighton has malignant germ cell tumors that are not located in See

PEACHES on page 14

BY DEVAN SAUER Contributor

On the first week of the month, white Homeland Security buses pull into the parking lot of the Grove Church in Chandler, unloading dozens of migrant families. They had surrendered to Border Patrol agents after traveling thousands of miles from disadvantaged, often violent situa-

tions in Central America. Some arrive carrying children as young as a year old. When the families arrive at the Grove, they see a cluster of gray buildings, topped with wooden panels that form the shape of a triangle at every entrance, making the scene resemble a village of cabins.

F E AT U R E STO R I E S All Chandler lawmakers opposed pay hike . . . . . . . COMMUNITY . . . . . Page 18 Chandler Chamber salutes the best . . . . . . . . . . . . . BUSINESS . . . . . . . . . Page 28 The wrap-up on Chandler champs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SPORTS . . . . . . . . . Page 42 Miss Arizona becomes a Lioness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NEIGHBORS . . . . . . . Page 47 Craft 64 can quench your thirst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FOOD . . . . . . . . . . Page 68

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MIGRANTS on page 7

More Community . . . . 1-27 Business . . . . . 28-34 Sports . . . . . . . 39-42 Opinion . . . . . 43-46 Neighbors . . . 47-55 Arts . . . . . . . . . .56-61 Faith. . . . . . . . . 62-64 Directory . . . . 65-66 Classifieds . . . . . . 67 Where to eat. 68-70

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