Families call for fences to be put up at Bronx River where 2 teenagers drowned

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Tim Fleischer reports the families went to the scene of the tragedy Monday. (WABC)

There are calls for change following the deaths of two teenagers who drowned in the Bronx River.

Their families now want fences put up to try and keep people from getting too close to the water.

The families returned to Starlight Park Monday, calling for a fence along the water's edge.

"I wish it was me that passed and not my son, I loved my son. Nothing can bring him back," said Eva Villa, the mother of one of the victims.

She is grieving the tragic loss of her son Erickson and her nephew Wellington Gavin.

"Please put the gates up around the river or close to the park," she said in Spanish.

On Friday afternoon, 13-year old Wellington and his 13-year old cousin Erickson jumped into the Bronx River, according to friends at a boat dock where people launch their kayaks and canoes.

Both knew how to swim, the family says. Wellington was pulled out by fire and police divers within a few minutes, but Erickson wasn't found until an hour later. He died Friday afternoon. Wellington died Sunday.

"We're asking the park be closed, off limits until that fence gets put up for the safety of the other children," said Erickson's father, Robinson Villa.

Swimming is not permitted there and signs are posted. There are also clear dangers, like a concrete dam. Visible now, it was submerged Friday when the boys went in the water.

Others say mud, silt and a quick dropoff pose even more problems.

"The families do not want this tragedy to happen to anyone else," said State Senator Rubin Diaz.

The Bronx River was also the scene of another pair of tragic drownings in 2010. 15-year old Crystal Reyes was struggling in the water where the river flows over a waterfall.

17-year old David Luccioni jumped in with his boots still on to save her. Both drowned.

"His mother told him, if you go to the park do not go into the river. Do not go into the river, she told him," said the victim's father, David Luccioni Sr.

The Children's Hospital at Montefiore said the second of Friday's victims, Wellington Gavin, passed away at the hospital before being taken off life support.

The afternoon turned tragic when a group of six went down to the kayak and canoe launching docks on the Bronx River.

"Two decided to jump in and one jumped in after, but he sees that he couldn't swim, so he got back out," said Diaminique Mims, an eyewitness.

When the two cousins did not surface, their friends ran to others in the park for help. First responders and divers found Erickson's cousin within 20 minutes, and frantically tried to save his life.

"The divers started pulling this one kid up - they started doing CPR and rushed him out," said eyewitness Andre Rivera.

Other divers then began searching a larger area around the floating docks for the Erickson, who they found an hour and twenty minutes later. He was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital where he later died.

The area where the boys went swimming is strictly for launching kayaks and canoes. There is a large sign that says 'swimming is prohibited'. The water is treacherous, and suddenly begins to get deep.

Starlight Park is currently under renovation. A planned pedestrian bridge to cross the river near the docks has not yet been built.

In 2010, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old drowned near the same area.
Related Topics:
swimmingdrowningwaterBronx RiverNew York City
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