Grieving Mom Shares Story as Warning After Toddler Son Drowns on Vacation


“We were never supposed to leave our beach vacation early to plan a funeral for our 3-year-old son,” wrote grieving mother Nicole Hughes.

“And, yet, within the course of one week, we had driven to the beach, returned without him, and held his funeral.”

It was a summer vacation that turned into a nightmare for the Hughes family on June 10. Their son, Levi, slipped away unnoticed and drowned within seconds, leaving everyone devastated.

Hughes is now pleading with adults worldwide to understand the very real danger of drowning, particularly at times when families are out of the water and busy with other activities.

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Watching kids while they are actively swimming is pretty much a no-brainer, and Hughes was vigilant about her son wearing a life jacket around water.

But most drownings, Hughes later learned, happen when water is accessible and children are not supposed to be there.

“There is a misconception that drowning only happens when you are swimming,” Hughes said.

“But, drowning also happens when you are 200 feet away from a pool, upstairs, eating Cheetos, wearing your neon yellow crab-hunting shirt, when you leave your mom’s side, even though you are usually Velcro-ed to her.”

Drowning isn’t splashing and yelling,” Hughes said. “It is silent, and it takes SECONDS.”

“I don’t know how Levi got away from us as we were cleaning up from dinner, or what lured him to go outside alone,” she wrote. “I was the one who found him, face down, in the deep end. Just moments before this horrific discovery, I split a brownie with him.

“I still had the other half of the brownie in my mouth when I jumped into the pool to grab my son. Mere moments, seconds.”

In the time it took for Hughes to realize Levi was gone, it was too late. Levi’s father was one of six doctors in the house on that day, yet Levi could not be revived.

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Now, Hughes is telling her son’s story in hopes that other lives will be preserved. She created “Levi’s Legacy,” which aims to end drownings by always having an adult on duty as a “water guardian.”

“My mission is to eradicate drowning completely,” Hughes said.

Hughes is also working with the pediatric medical community to highlight the fact that drowning is the leading cause of death in children aged 1-4.

Had she known how prevalent drowning really was, Hughes reasoned, her family probably would have handled their beach vacation supervision differently.

Hughes highlighted the reality that drownings don’t discriminate.

She is begging parents and grandparents to take water supervision seriously, always having an adult designated to prevent drownings whenever water is near.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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