A South Florida dad experienced the unimaginable after his son drowned in their family pool. But from this tragedy was born a new vocation.
Flemens Casimir’s son was just 3 years old when he slipped through the garden and drowned in the swimming pool at the family home in Coral Springs on January 15, 2021.
“While I was watching my son and my daughter, my son came out the back door, and I didn’t notice he was out,” Flemens recalled. “And then when I went to pick it up, I noticed the pool door had been knocked down. When I looked into the pool, that’s where I found it floating.”
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Cleighton Wallace Casimir loved hugs, superheroes, his family and water. Cleighton was autistic and always gravitated towards water. Flemens said he struggled to get him to take swimming lessons because of the pandemic.
Now Flemens is determined not to let his son’s death go in vain. At 48, Flemens now takes swimming lessons at Aquachild in North Miami Beach every week.
“I decided to go learn to swim and eventually become an instructor to teach kids with autism and to teach inner city kids,” he said.
Scott Launer, the owner of Aquachild, helps her do just that.
“I have to say he’s really dedicated, he’s gone from not swimming at all to finishing swimming independently, so it’s amazing,” Launer said.
The Florida Department of Children and Families reports that in 2021, nearly 100 Florida children lost their lives by drowning. A dismal record.
“I think it’s one of those things that the other parent thinks they’re looking at the kid and you know, they’re going out of sight,” Launer said.
It’s something Flemens hopes to prevent one day as an instructor.
“If I can help other families through the pain, you know, that my family is going through right now, then yes,” Flemens said.
All in honor of Cleighton.
Flemens also hopes to establish a scholarship fund in Cleighton’s honor.
“Every breath I take is for him,” Flemens said.
Experts recommend these steps to avoid this tragedy:
- Teach your children to swim
- Make sure your eyes are on your kids as they swim
- Install a four-sided fence around the pool, move furniture away from the fence and keep it locked.
- Consider installing alarms on all doors
- If a child ever goes missing, check the pool first