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Mother of California toddler shares story of near-drowning experience

Mother of Escondido toddler shares story of near-death drowning experience
Posted at 9:14 AM, Jun 07, 2021

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — As families prepare to enjoy their pools this summer, an Escondido mother is speaking out for the first time after a near-drowning last summer that forever changed the life of her little boy.

July 3, 2020. Trisha Bernal was at work, while her husband and six kids, including 3-year-old Malachi, were at a friend's Poway home celebrating the holiday weekend.

A total of nine children were in the house and backyard, with three adults inside cooking. When everyone gathered to eat, Malachi was nowhere to be found. After a frantic search, he was discovered at the bottom of the pool. It's unclear how long he had been there.

After CPR was performed, he was breathing before the ambulance rushed him to the hospital.

"Lots of shock. You just don't know how to respond in a situation like that. It's a parent's worst nightmare," said Bernal.

Malachi would survive, but at the hospital, Bernal learned her happy, active son had suffered severe brain damage.

"Just very minor movements, but for the most part, he can’t move, and he can't talk," said Bernal.

Doctors have told Bernal her son won't walk or talk again, but she hasn't lost hope, enlisting alternative therapies like hyperbaric oxygen chambers.

Meanwhile, Bernal is now sharing Malachi's story in hopes of helping others, detailing his story on a Facebook page. She encourages parents to vigilant and to look into measures like pool gates and door alarms.

"Don’t take it for granted that your child knows what to do when they’re near the water ... One day, your kids is running, laughing and playing, and then, in the blink an eye … I will likely never hear the sound of his voice or laughter again,” said Bernal.

According to the CDC, three children die in drowning accidents every day. For each drowning death, there are about eight near-drowning incidents.

Friends of the Bernal family have set up a Gofundme campaign to help with expenses for Malachi’s care.

In the Tampa Bay area, the YMCA offers swim lessons that can be registered for here and in Riverview, Water Smart Tots also offers lessons.