Zachary Lee Rager had jumped several times from the train trestle on the Willapa Hills Trail into the Chehalis River during the summer months. When he did it again on March 23, 2021, the 18-year-old from Centralia didn’t realize how cold the water would be at that time of year. Despite the efforts of his friends to rescue him, Zack suffered cold-water shock and drowned.
On Wednesday, Rep. Peter Abbarno gathered with Rager’s family and other local officials at the old railroad bridge on the Willapa Hills Trail near Chehalis to announce pending legislation intended to prevent cold-water shock drownings.
“In December, I will pre-file legislation for the 2022 legislative session to help prevent drownings by bringing attention to cold-water shock. We’re calling it ‘Zack’s Law,’ in honor and memory of Zack Rager. It would require state government agencies and local governments to erect signs addressing drowning hazards when replacing signs or erecting signs near dangerous water hazards,” said Abbarno, R-Centralia. “Zack’s Law would also create a mechanism for the public to donate funds to the state for the specific purpose of erecting signs in locations known to attract people to what could be hazardous waterways.”