Northland grandpa pushes for more life jackets at the lake after his granddaughter dies

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Almost a year later, it's still tough for a Northland grandfather to look at water. Chris Gerlt's 7-year-old granddaughter, Hannah Gerlt, died after a trip to the lake. On July 17, 2010, Hannah drowned in Smithville Lake. She was not wearing a lifejacket.

"She would say I love you, and I would say you too and she would say I love you more and I would say I love you more and we kind of argue and I would say I am bigger and have a bigger heart and have more love and she go grrrr," Chris Gerlt remembered. " I was totally wrong because Hannah was all heart."

Now, Chris Gerlt is asking for a new state law to prevent future child-drownings.

He wants a new state law that would require children to wear life jackets while swimming and wading in public lakes. Right now the law only requires children in boats or watercrafts to wear life jackets and he would also like to see the age moved up to 8.

On the brink of the Fourth of July weekend Gerlt just wants families to be safe.

"Don't take it for granted a dumb decision can destroy your life, Sunday would have been Hannah's eighth birthday it's very tough," said Gerlt.

Gerlt said the House Bill 440 did was voted on and did not pass, but Missouri Representatives plan to resubmit the bill again in the fall.

They have a Facebook group dedicated to the cause.

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