WALLAND, Tenn. (WATE) — After a scary moment for a rising high school senior, Hayley Delp is now hoping to get a message out about the dangers of Peery’s Mill dam. Doctors said what she experienced over Memorial Day weekend is medically referred to as a nonfatal drowning.
“I just kept trying to resurface,” she said.
Hayley was swept from her feet as a current brought her down the waterfall and into an area where she said the current was so strong, that she fought to get above water.
“The only thing I remember is flapping my arms and legs trying to fight to keep myself up and then the next thing I know is I feel the urge to not fight anymore because I felt my body getting weaker the more I kept fighting,” Hayley said.
Before it was too late, Hayley’s brother-in-law found her ankle in the water and managed to pull her out. It’s a very similar story to what Renee Ritchie’s daughter experienced. In 2019, her 13-year-old daughter wasn’t as fortunate and drowned. Now three years later, she’s still giving the same advice.
“If you want to keep your life the same and not have your world taken away from you, don’t bother, don’t come, don’t get in the water,” Ritchie said. “It’s the current underneath that’s your worst enemy.”
Ritchie has been hoping for more to be done at the dam to keep visitors safe. A sign that was donated is now at the dam warning those of the dangers, but Hayley’s mom said they didn’t see the signs until it was too late.
“I thank God for my daughter and son-in-law because the current was pulling me under as well as them and I know how hard it was and how hard she (Hayley) struggled,” Tabatha Delp, Hayley’s mother said.
This is why Hayley is hoping her message is loud and clear. She advises visitors to be safe while at the dam or to avoid it all together.
“I know what I went through that day and how hard it was for me to keep myself from going under, I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel that way,” she said.
“I’m not even going to say she’s lucky, because luck has nothing to do with it, that was God by her side,” Tabatha said.
Both Hayley’s mother and Ritchie said they would like more than just signs to be present. Instead, placing barriers to keep visitors from entering areas that are known as dangerous is what they’re suggesting.