Emma’s story begins with my wife and I having a second chance together after the Bastrop fires in 2011. My wife was my ex-girlfriend at time of the fires and we reconnected after the loss of the house. We married January 1st, 2012 and found out she was pregnant with Emma in April. On December 18th, 2012 we welcomed Emma, the joy of our lives’, into the world. Emma was a vibrant, energetic and loving child. She had me wrapped around her little finger.
Emma loved spending time with her parents, riding the horses with mom and shooting archery with daddy with her own little pink bow.
In March of 2017, we took a much-anticipated family vacation to Disney World in Florida. Emma’s favorite movie was Frozen and her whole goal for this trip was to meet Elsa. After four straight days of Disney adventuring, we took a break from the parks to listen to a time share sales pitch. Of course, the kids had started getting bored after an hour and the sales guy mentioned an activity center downstairs that catered to kids. It was next to their big wading pool, which caused me concern, but the salesman said not to worry as the property is the safest place in Orlando. The activity center was supervised, and they would watch over the kids and keep them safe. We let them go down after all the assurances.
After the pitch, we decided not to buy the timeshare, gathered the kids, and got changed to go swim in the big pool. However, around 4:15 I had a small call to be on and didn’t hear the kids asking to go back into the activity center to play. When I didn’t see them, I asked my wife “Where are the kids?” She said “In the activity center” which was outside the pool area. With the pool area being gated, I felt it was safe and that they would be okay.
A few minutes later, I saw people acting frantically, grabbing phones, and yelling “call 911.” I saw a crowd gathering by the edge of the pool and said to my wife, “Let’s go see what is going on. I don’t feel good about all of this.” Upon arriving at the pool, we saw it was Emma that everyone was excited about. A grandfather had pulled her out of the pool when he noticed she was face down in the water and not moving.
My wife and I jumped into action and started administering CPR. When the ambulance arrived, they took her to the closest trauma center and got her heart beating again on its own along with breathing assistance.
But Emma never recovered.
We continue to mourn her loss and have dedicated the efforts of Emma’s Project to spread awareness of the dangers of child drowning.