Skiing squirrel focuses on water safety after trainer's husband drowns

CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - People howl with laughter when Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel dons his bright orange life jacket and hops aboard his custom squirrel skis and takes to the wake.

Owner Lou Ann Best has been hearing that laughter for 33 years as she's traveled the country showing her squirrel stunts to millions of people.

But while the message of her show today is still fun, it's more focused on safety. In 1997, her husband Chuck Best jumped in to help his stepfather after he fell off of a boat into a lake.

"If my husband would have grabbed the life ring or had his life jacket on before he jumped in to help, it could have made a difference," said Lou Ann.

Chuck saved his stepfather's life, but lost his own.

The trauma of the rescue caused him to have a heart attack and drown. But Lou Ann doesn't carry a somber story about her tragedy.

Instead, it's almost hard to find her not laughing about something silly Twiggy has done. She says her mission is to make a difference and teach others the lesson she learned.

"It gives my life purpose you know? My husband didn't die in vain. I think he would be so proud of me going out and doing this. And using this bad situation and making good out of it. And making a difference."