Mother doesn't want toddler who drowned to have died in vain

Parents say they don’t want others to know this loss

July 19 at 7:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Mother doesn't want toddler who drowned to have died in vain
Recalling how 2-year-old Kevin J. "Bubba" Cortez III loved being by the bayou and on the boat with his papa, his parents wept as they emphasized how much they didn't want others to lose a child the way they did.

“I don’t want my son to have died in vain,” said Laura Plaisance Cortez.

The child’s mother lamented how they lost their baby even though they thought they’d protected their children by teaching them how to swim and use life preserver.

“The gate got open, he snuck by and it all just happened so fast,” Cortez said. “People need to realize if you take all the precautions there is still that slight chance … because that is what happened to our boy.”

On the Fourth of July, the Cortez family was celebrating at a barbecue at a friend’s residence in Raceland when they noticed the youngster wasn’t in the house playing as they had thought.

Some 18 minutes later, Cortez’s father, Kevin Cortez Jr., a native of Des Allemands, found the child at the bottom of a murky swimming pool there around 11:45 a.m., according to Laura and the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. He attempted to resuscitate the child, as well as others there, but the youngster did not respond.

The Cortez family is actually among a shocking number of people who have lost 2-year-olds in recent drowning accidents throughout the nation. The same day her child died, another boy the same age drowned in Pontchatoula.Despite taking the precautions, the Cortez family lost their son.

“Somebody left the gate to the pool open and my baby went up the deck and jumped in,” Laura Cortez said. “My baby actually went up there with his older sister (3 years old), and she came down and he never did.”

They thought the two were inside the house playing, she added. Instead, they had apparently slipped out the house unnoticed and went to the pool.

“We’re just so grateful we didn’t lose her, too,” she said of her daughter. “We want as many people as possible to know because we don’t want them to lose their children, too.”The family lives in Lockport, but she said her husband’s family is in Des Allemands and they plan to relocate there.

Their son, the middle child of three, considered the place his second home, she said.

“You realize how often stuff like this happens and you just think it won’t happen to you – until it does,” Cortez said. “Our boy grew up here on the bayou and it’s hard not to grow up in the water. He could doggie paddle since he turned one year old.”

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre reported the two-year-old boy died as a result of a suspected drowning in a swimming pool and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Investigators learned Cortez was last seen playing with other children inside the residence.

A short time later, the youngster was no longer inside the house, and adults began searching for him.

Cortez said she’s since learned her son had a bruise on his head, suggesting he hit his head as he jumped or slipped into the pool.

“He hit his head and knocked himself out,” she said. “They told us they found a knot on the back of his head – a bruise.”

The child was pronounced dead at Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital.

Since their tragic loss, Cortez said a group called Child Water Safety Awareness gave them $1,000 to help with funeral costs. A member of the group’s board, an EMT, tried to resuscitate the child in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

“I actually told him we didn’t want the money – just their prayers,” she said. “We just don’t want this to happen to another family. We don’t want them to feel the pain we’re feeling, and we just want to help prevent that.”

And the community has responded.

They rallied together from neighboring communities and towns, as well as some from as far away as Canada, to offer them condolences and support, as well as defended them from some who chastised the couple. She said they’ve apparently done this if people this far away are messaging them.

The couple also has started seeing a grief counselor.

“We’re taking it day by day, second by second,” she said. “It hurts not having our boy with us so bad. I would not wish this on anyone, and if we can prevent this for another parent – we will.”

View other articles written Anna Thibodeaux

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