The Bronx River was filled with emergency search crews following the drowning of two young, teenage boys this past weekend in New York. What was supposed to be a fun cool off swim in the river, quickly escalated as the cousins fought for their lives last Friday, June 20. Both were only 13 years old.
The two cousins were with a group of friends at Starlight Park on Friday afternoon. Gabin and Villa agreed to spontaneously dive in, not anticipating the sudden dip in the water. Signs were put up along the river to warn that there is no swimming allowed. Both boys did not know how to swim when they stepped off of the shallow end and into the deeper waters, according to their relatives.
Erickson Villa jumped in the water first. When Wellington Gabin noticed his cousin was struggling, he jumped hoping to save him. Their group of friends watched nearby and immediately started to panic as they saw they were struggling to stay above the water. Gabin and Villa eventually submerged in the water and could not be seen. They frantically approached a witness, Richard Ferrano, for assistance and quickly called 911.
Wellington Gabin was the first cousin to be pulled from the water after a 15 minute search. It took emergency responders a little over one hour to find the other boy, Erickson Villa as the water in the Bronx River had very low visibility. The cousins were unresponsive when they were both pulled from the water.
They were both taken to St. Barnabas Hospital to be treated. Gabin and Villa were brought to the hospital, both in very critical condition. Villa died from internal difficulties from the drowning that day.
Wellington Gabin was transferred to another nearby hospital, Montefiore Hospital, on Saturday morning. He was then put on life support and for the past two days, Gabin’s family tried to remain hopeful as they prayed for his consciousness to come back. His mother made the decision to disconnect her son from life support, but Gabin quietly died before any of the machines were turned off. His mother was siting down next to her son as he passed away. The two boys, Gabin and Villa, drowned in the Bronx River after wanting to cool off in the waters during the hot summer day.
Wellington Gabin and Erickson Villa both attended Herman Ridder Intermediate School. Following their deaths, they will be sent to the Dominican Republic with their families where funeral services will take place in a joint funeral.
With the deaths of two young boys in the Bronx River, many locals are curious as to why the river was not enclosed. There was no protective fencing along the river despite the deep drop that killed Gabin and Villa. VIlla’s family is demanding to meet with City Cousin in hopes that a fence can be built along the Bronx River. They are hoping that a tradegy like this one will not happen again to other families in the area.
Two boys, Wellington Gabin and Erickson Villa, died this past weekend after they drowned in the Bronx River. Both reportedly could not swim but spontaneously made the decision to jump in to cool off from a hot day. The funerals will be held in the Dominican Republic.
By Tricia Manalansan