Father: 2-year-old who drowned 'could steal anyone's heart'

After 5 minutes of searching, boy was found at bottom of pool, family says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A family is heartbroken after the death of a 2-year-old boy who was visiting a relative when he drowned in a pool at a home on Jacksonville's Westside.

The child's father, uncle and brother were playing computer games inside the San Juan Avenue home about 2 p.m. when the boy mentioned wanting juice and left the room, according to an incident report.

When he didn’t return, his father went looking for him. He wasn’t with his grandmother in the other room.

"We looked all over. We couldn't find him," said Lydia Benton, the child's grandmother. "My son looked in the pool, he said, 'I don't see him there,' then something told me, 'Go back.'"

Five minutes later, the boy was found at the bottom of an above-ground pool in the back yard.

Despite efforts by first responders and a neighbor to resuscitate the boy using CPR, the child could not be revived. He was later pronounced dead at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

The boy’s father, Fernando Marquez, told News4Jax his son, Ayden, was visiting from Brooklyn, New York. Marquez had just arrived in Florida and had plans to take his sons to Hawaii, where he is stationed in the Army.

"Everybody that knew Ayden knew that he had a special gift," Marquez said. "He could steal anyone's heart."

Marquez, told police Ayden knew how to climb the pool’s ladder because they had all gone swimming the day before, according to the report. The pool was four feet deep.

“The biggest issue and the thing that I’m still trying to deal with on my end, he didn’t know the difference between having a life jacket on and having it off," Marquez said. "I keep telling that to everyone around me. To make sure the kids actually understand, that confidence that they have with the life jacket on, is way different from when they don’t have it.”

Ayden's mother, Ehalia Marquez, said the memory of their sweet and adventurous son will live on forever.

"Hold your kids tight and just thank God every day that you have them," Ehalia Marquez said. "You don’t know pain until you lose one of them.”

The family said it's grateful for everyone who has offered to help. A funeral is planned Thursday in New York.

About the Author: