Country singer Granger Smith and his wife, Amber, tragically lost their 3-year-old son to a drowning accident. Two weeks ago, River and his two older siblings were playing happily in their backyard. The Texas sun was shining, the boys were playing with water guns, and Granger was struck by the beauty of their family life.
“I was looking at London as she was doing gymnastics and I thought, Soak up this moment. I just had this thought because it’s not gonna last forever.”
Moments later, Granger and Amber were performing CPR on their youngest child. He had found his way inside the gate to their pool and slipped under the water. First responders came to the Smiths’ home and transported River to Dell Children’s Medical Center. For two days, River’s family prayed he would recover. Unfortunately, River passed away on June 6th, 2019.
According to the CDC, 3,536 people die each year from accidental drowning. About 20% of these drowning deaths happen to children 14 years and younger. Granger and Amber are determined to remember River's three years of life with happiness - he’s more than a statistic to them. River’s older siblings London (7) and Lincoln (5) miss their little brother. However, the Smith family says the kids are coping extremely well. They credit their strong Christian faith as a source of peace in the midst of this tragedy.
“God gave us River for three years, and that was his mission. I don’t think God takes anyone too soon. I believe he was put on this earth for that exact amount of time.”
London asked her dad how many days River lived. Granger replied, “Just over a thousand.” The simple question from a grieving sister gave the singer pause.
“What if you were given a gift of 1,000 days on this earth? And you could live those days barefoot, red hair flying back, on your go-kart, on your tractor - full-speed ahead. If you could do that with your family around you, with no real cares in the world...that’s a good thousand days.”
Fans have asked Granger and Amber if they will turn River’s death into a personal platform. “We are gonna search for every bit of good we find in this, the worst situation we’ve ever been through. We’re going to constantly search for ways that good will come out of this. That’s my commitment to River’s legacy.”
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The couple said their family is stronger than ever and are leaning into their faith for support. They thanked their fans and loved ones for their prayers, not just for River’s recovery, but for the family’s healing after his passing. Both parents believe River’s life was meaningful and beautiful, and they’ve chosen to honor his memory by dwelling on the happy moments they shared. Even in the darkest time in their life as a family, the Smiths feel God is with them and watching over them.
Amber and Granger decide to donate their son's organs to two other children who needed transplants. Amber shared on Instagram that God answered the prayers of those two families that day through River.
Among children and adults, drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In lieu of flowers, the Smiths requested donations to be sent to the Dell Children’s Medical Center in Texas. Fans have already raised over $100,000 to donate to the hospital where River spent his last days. Visit the Smith family’s YouTube channel for their touching tribute video of River’s life.