Levi Hughes was 3 years old when he drowned on June 10, 2018. While on vacation with his family, he slipped out of a room filled with adults, down a flight of stairs, and fell into the pool. His mom split a brownie with him and had not finished the other bite of the brownie when she jumped into the pool to grab her son. In a blink, this very loved little boy became one of the thousands of children who drown each year in the United States.
When it comes to drowning prevention, our children deserve better. They deserve change, and the key to that change is research.
Thankfully a comprehensive study is finally underway that will transform how we approach water safety in our country. We are hopeful and excited about these next steps and will continue to update.
I Didn't Know...
I thought I was doing everything right to protect my son when it came to water safety. Despite our best, most well-intentioned efforts, our Levi drowned.
We are painfully aware that Levi’s death rests on my husband and me. We failed to keep him safe, and there is no denying that fact. But I have since learned that water safety goes far beyond the assumed foolproof advice of “watch your kids while swimming.”
I thought I was doing everything right to keep Levi safe. I have 16 photos of what would be his final day of life, and in 14 of them, he is wearing a life jacket or puddle jumper: time-stamped photos of my boy, grinning proudly in his puddle jumper, as we unknowingly marched toward the end.
I will never stop wishing I had not momentarily turned to clean up dinner and had seen Levi slip out the door that night. But, over the last year and a half of research and advocacy, I have realized the most impactful mistake I made that ultimately led to my son’s death: I allowed and even encouraged Levi to believe that water was fun.
As I delved deeper into the statistics and personal stories around drowning, I saw consistent common factors: children who drown usually loved water, relied on a puddle jumper, thought, and were even told, they could swim, but did not know how to survive if they reached water alone.
My perception of water safety has shifted dramatically, and defines the mission of the Levi’s Legacy Foundation: We must ensure that children who fall in the water do not die there. We owe it to future generations to change our culture’s mindset around water.
-Nicole Hughes, Levi's Mom