Vigil to honor children who drowned in SWFL

Author: Nicole Papageorge

NORTH NAPLES, Fla.- Drowning is a constant risk in Southwest Florida, and for some families, it leads to tragedy.  On Friday, families gathered at Vanderbilt Beach to remember the lives taken too soon. It comes just one day after a 6-year-old boy drowned in a Charlotte County pool.

“You know unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy to get people to come together and create some unity to fix a problem and come up with some solutions,” said Paul Demello, who lost his boys to a drowning accident five years ago.

Joshua and Christian DeMello drowned in their grandparents’ pool in Charlotte County, on January 16th, 2010. They were only 13 months old.

“I’ve shed a lot of tears, had sleepless nights,” said DeMello.

On Friday evening, DeMello was honoring his sons in a very special way, through the Tot Walk Vigil on Vanderbilt Beach.  DeMello started a foundation to raise awareness called “Just Against Children Drowning.”

“It’s a journey that I don’t wish on anyone,” said DeMello.

The vigil is not just to honor the twins and the 36 other children who drowned in Collier County since 2000.  It’s also to raise awareness and to prevent another tragedy.

“I miss them everyday,” said DeMello.  “I think about them everyday.”

Leaders at The Safe and Healthy Kids Coalition of Collier County says you can protect your children from drowning with several layers of protection.  They recommend using door and window locks and alarms, pool fences and netting, and to teach your children how to swim.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.