GRANT COUNTY (WISH) — Two young boys died Sunday in Grant County after they were found at the bottom of family pools, miles apart from each other.
The Grant County coroner says these were separate, unrelated incidents: one in the city of Marion, and one in Grant County. However, he adds, the boys are distant cousins.
He says preliminary autopsy results show seven-year-old Jazionte Smith, and 15-month-old Jakauri Nelson, died of asphyxia due to drowning, but an official cause of death has not yet been released.
The family of 15-month-old Jakauri Nelson spoke to 24-Hour News 8 Monday, in the hopes their words could prevent this heartache from happening to someone else.
“I miss my baby. I do. He was my pride and joy, he was. He was my pride and joy,” said Laddie Ann Drake, who describes her 15-month-old son Jakauri Nelson as a baby who gave everyone joy.
“He wandered into the pool, and fell over into the pool. By the time anybody caught an eye to it, it was just too late. That’s why we’re standing here now. Just be aware,” said Arthur Drake, the boy’s uncle.
Officials say it happened at his great-grandmother’s home. Family members found him in the pool and rushed him to the hospital, where he died just before 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
“He’s gone now, and there’s a piece of me missing. I’ve got that empty spot,” said Laddie Ann.
An empty spot, made all the worse by another death.
Just hours earlier, a distant cousin seven-year-old Jazionte Smith, was found at the bottom of a nine-foot portion of a pool during a separate family gathering in Grant County.
The Grant County coroner says family said Jazionte had been in the pool earlier, then got out. It was during or after a game of hide-and-seek, when family members found him at the bottom of the pool. It was unclear whether or not he could swim. He died at the hospital around 8:00 PM.
15-month-old Jakauri Nelson’s family heard the news about their cousin.
Officials say his grandmother had just gone to the store to get a lock for their pool after hearing what happened at the other gathering, when she got a call her 15-month-old grandson was found at the bottom of their pool.
The two boys died within an hour and a half of each other at Marion General Hospital.
“You don’t ever know. The impossible can happen. It happened here,” said Arthur Drake. “The main thing is to stay aware. There’s water around, kids around, be aware of everything going on.”
The Drakes hope by sharing their story they may save someone else.
“Just keep a close eye out on all your kids. Hold them and love them. You don’t know when they’re going to leave,” said Laddie Ann. “Just love them.”
Because the pain of their loss, has just begun.
“Mommy love you baby,” Laddie Ann added.
A spokesman for the Marion Police Department echoed this family’s sentiments.
He said now is the time to make sure your pool is secured in a way a small child can’t figure out. Even if they can swim, make sure the pool is secure if there aren’t adults watching.
The family of Jazionte Smith didn’t wish to speak with 24-Hour News 8 Monday.