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Drowning vigil honors those lost, educates parents

Parents of drowning victims gather to mourn
Posted at 10:18 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 22:18:01-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla — The NCH Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition held the annual Twins Tot Vigil on Vanderbilt Beach Friday.

Among those on hand Paul Dimello of Port Charlotte. His twin 13 month old sons, Joshua and Christian drowned in his backyard pool 8 years ago.

“Everyday I think about them I miss them, it’s doing vigils like this that bring them even closer to me,” said Paul Dimello.

The names of 47 children who drowned in Collier County since 2000 were read. The event took place two days after a 3-year-old girl drowned at a pool in a Golden Gate.

“The ones I worry about the most are the ones that don’t think it’s going to happen to them, so I think it needs to be a redundant message,” said Dimello.

NCH officials emphasized a layered approach to preventing poolside drownings. That includes supervising children at all times, having a CPR trained adult nearby and having kids take swimming courses. Children as young as 9 months can take lessons.

The Kiwanis Club of Collier County is donating free pool alarms that are tripped when kids open a door leading to the pool.

“One of the messages we want to send to the parents is please check the pool or body of water first and teach them never to swim alone,” said Paula DiGrigoli of the NCH Safe & Healthy Kids Coalition.

Paul says he’ll spend as much time as he can making sure parents know how to prevent drownings, though he may have lost his kids to this tragedy, their memory lives on

"They were very social, they were like butterflies, they loved everyone.”

For drowning prevention tips and information on swimming classes click here.