NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A joint funeral service was held Friday for the two young cousins who died after jumping into the Bronx River last week.
As 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported, it was an open-casket service for 13-year-olds Wellington Gavin and Erikson Villa.
Divers pulled Gavin and Villa from the river last Friday near Starlight Park in the West Farms section of the Bronx, about an hour apart, after a report of two missing swimmers.
Gavin had jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue his cousin, Villa.
Both boys were unconscious and unresponsive. They were rushed to nearby hospitals where Villa was pronounced dead on Friday of last week.
Gavin died Sunday afternoon with his mother at his side.
Jose Rivera, who kayaks in the Bronx River, said he saw the boys there often and wishes he had been there to save them.
“There are signs there, ‘no swimming.’ There’s just no one there to oversee that park,” Rivera said.
The boys’ local pastor said the no swimming signs are only in English and many people in the neighborhood, including the cousins, are from the Dominican Republic and don’t read English well.
Following the boys’ deaths, many in the community called for action to prevent another similar tragedy.
“They call it a greenway, but in our neighborhood children who come from foreign countries are used to jumping in water,” said Winifred Colton, youth program leader at Bridges Community Church.
Colton said she’s been pushing the city to patrol the park and to close it at night. In fact, she said she was in a meeting with local leaders about the issue at the very same time the boys were at the Bronx River’s edge.
“When I got home 45 minutes later, I got two dead kids,” she said.
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