After cousins drown in Bronx River, family calls for increased safety measures

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THE BRONX (PIX11) — A family shattered by a deadly start to the summer returned to the site where their sons drowned on Friday.

13-year-olds Erikson Villa and Gavin Wellington were cousins. They decided to take an after school dip in the Bronx River, a decision that would turn out to be a fatal mistake.

Villa was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Friday evening. Wellington passed away inside Montifiore Hospital over the weekend. Monday afternoon, relatives placed flowers in the same waters that claimed the kids lives and community advocates joined their parents with a desperate plea.

“Now is the time for us to help these two families grieve and they are able to lay these two children to rest. God forbid this from happening here or to anyone else,” said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.

Officials and families want a fence built to keep children away from the boat launch of Starlight Park, where swimming is banned in the Bronx River.

“I’m empty. I’m empty. Please put the gates up. Put the gates up,” said Villa’s grief-sicken mother Wendy.

“Were requesting that a fence be put in this park and the fact that were asking that the park be off limits and closed for the safety of other children,” said Robertson Villa.

While lawmakers and the family called for increased safety to prevent the next tragedy, classmates of Villa and Wellington from IS 98 are still struggling with the loss.

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