Mother of drowning victim pleads for river safety

By Kelly McCarthy

April 15, 2014 Updated Apr 15, 2014 at 6:24 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The mother of 20-year-old Brian Lanzo speaks to Action News on coping with the family's unexpected loss. Autopsy results show his drowning death Saturday was an accident.

"Brian wasn't a swimmer," said his mother, Doreatha Miles, "But he loved life."

A Saturday afternoon picnic turned tragic when friends couldn't rescue Brian Lanzo from the strong currents of the Susquehanna river.

"Missing him so much, his spirit, his outgoing spirit of dancing and singing," Miles said, "And the gatherings together he would be the life of the party."

Miles said her son loved to sing and dance, and said he always wanted to travel.

"You know I can say right now as I speak Brian's traveling," Miles said, "He's in the best place, he's got the best place in the world right now."

Emergency Crews told the Broome County Sheriff's office the water's temperature was around 40 degrees on Saturday.

"When he jumped in one is, the cold water took his breath away," said Broome County Sheriff David Harder, "He wasn't much of a swimmer anyways, and he immediately went right down."

High water levels and swift current were challenging even for professional divers who led the search to find Lanzo.

"The divers, they said themselves, it was very tough diving because certain parts of the stream carried them away," Harder said, "They just couldn't keep up."

Giving Miles a heartbreaking message to share with the community.

"If you can not swim, don't do it. Do not get up. I don't care what friend it is, who it is, if you can't swim don't do it."

Miles is holding one of their last conversations with Lanzo close to her heart forever.

"I'm gonna always be his mom, his number one woman in his life, as he said," Miles said, "That day, before he passed, I'm gonna always be the number one woman in his life. So, I have that to hold onto."

Like many families after losing a loved one unexpectedly, Miles said they are struggling with financing Lanzo's burial.

A memorial fund has been set up through SEFCU in Brian Lanzo's name.

To donate, click here.