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Leyton's Legacy - Jaxon's Journey: A Twin Drowning Tragedy

Toddler are mischievous. They are fast. They are figuring out the world around them and they discover how to do new things everyday.... The Canavan family share their story in hopes their tragedy won't happen to anyone else.

"It was the day before Thanksgiving, 2015. I wish I could say I remember everything that happened that day, but I do not. I know my day started with the gym followed by some last minute Thanksgiving pictures with the boys (Jaxon and Leyton, our identical twin boys).

I put the boys in aluminum pans, gave them some kitchen utensils and a potato. I remember laughing as I took their pictures. They always made me laugh. Afterwards, the boys laid down to nap. I did a few things around the house, including laundry. When Jarred came home, we ate dinner as a family. The twins laid down for the night and the big kids went to their dad's house. I ran to Target for a few last minute things and when I returned the boys woke up. I will always regret not staying up with them that night; Jarred stayed up with the boys that night. I had made plans with the girls from my gym to run early in the morning and I was tired.

I kissed the boys and Jarred and went to bed, but not before reminding him to check that the doors were locked. It was a nightly routine for us. Most of the time, we would get in bed, get comfortable and I would ask Jarred if he double checked all the doors. And most of the time, he would get out of bed and recheck what I had already locked.

The next morning came. THAT day. The day I wish never came. The boys woke earlier than normal that morning. It was around 5am. We got up, gave the boys bottles and changed their diapers. I do not remember who did what and that makes me really sad. When the boys finished their bottles, one of us placed them in Leyton's crib as we did every morning for them to play.

I texted my best friend and started to get ready to go for my run. It was about 6:30am and I was running late. My best friend texted me to let me know she was unable to make it due to some last minute things she needed for Thanksgiving, so I decided to cancel. Jarred decided to get up and go to a meeting. Jarred NEVER goes to a 7am meeting. He hurried to get ready as he was already running late.

The boys were playing quietly together. I laid down in our bed. I was tired. By the time Jarred left, the boys were laying down. I knew Jarred would be home soon (the meetings were an hour long and he was late). I shut my eyes. I had no idea when I woke up, my life would forever be changed.

I woke up to the most gut wrenching scream I had ever heard, "CHRISTINAAAA". I jumped up and out of our bed and I RAN! I came out of our room and immediately my eyes were drawn to the slider. It was OPEN! The baby gate was OPEN! In that moment I dashed for the door. Within seconds I was carrying Jaxon's lifeless body and Jarred had Leyton. We ran for my phone. Our hands were wet and we could not dial 911. My first thought was to run outside. I opened the door, we ran outside with the boys in our arms and screamed to a man, "CALL 911".

The neighbor heard Jarred's initial scream for me and had already called 911. I remember looking up. As we stood their holding our lifeless boys, neighbors crowded the street and stared. Just stared. Maybe they were in shock, too. At some point, we tried to do CPR. By this time, police had arrived and took over. We sat in our front yard as neighbors and news reporters watched and showed up. I remember rocking and repeating, "the boys are dead". If I had to guess, they worked on the boys for an hour or close to it before they brought them out on stretchers and had us follow them to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital only to find out they still had no pulse or heart beat. What I will tell you is, the doctor on staff that day, was a real life hero. He was a gift from God. He watched over everyone, gave orders and was determined to bring our boys back. Eventually, they got a faint pulse and transferred them to the next hospital where Leyton passed late that evening. Jaxon survived, but with severe brain damage.

I was sleeping. I thought my boys were safe. It was approximately 7:30 am when I decided to lay in the bed and fell asleep. The boys had started their day a lot earlier then normal. They laid back down and I thought Jarred would be home soon. I had no idea the twins were going to get out of the crib (or were even capable of it) and make their way to the water. Jaxon and Leyton got out of their crib for the first time; a SECURE area at 15 months-old, for the FIRST and LAST time. They got out of the room while I slept, through the baby gate and through the slider door and drown.

People assume "neglect" when a child drowns or anything bad happens. "Sleep when your baby(ies) sleep", is what I was always told. It is what almost every mother is told. I am here to tell you, bad things happen to great parents. I am here to tell you that I NEVER believed it could happen on MY time. NEVER. I was that mom, the mom that followed directions given when discharged from the hospital. Baby sleeps on their back, no co-sleeping and no blankets. I followed the instruction manual to install the car seat. I adjusted the straps correctly and made sure the straps were snug. I made sure to cut the twins food and watch them while they ate. My family and friends, and sometimes even my husband would laugh at me or joke that I was "overly" cautious.

You see, I thought I was doing everything right. But my biggest fear happened that day when my boys drowned. I thought alarms, locks and a gate in front of our slider would keep the boys safe. We never brought the boys outback to play. They used the pool twice in the 11 months we lived there. My point is, no matter how careful you think you are. No matter how many times you convince yourself that it can not happen to you. No matter how many precautions you take. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!

If you know me personally, you know my children are my life, you know my children are taken care of, you know I take ALOT of precautions. I have decided to share our story because I want to save YOU the heartache we feel daily and mainly, I want to save YOUR child's life. I hope you, the person reading this knows it can happen to you, your family or someone you know. I want you to know it is preventable and I hope that you will use ALL layers of protection. I hope you will ditch the floaties. I hope the next time you read an article you are not so quick to judge. I hope you offer a prayer instead of a negative comment. I hope you know that Leyton's death and the loss of Jaxon has torn not only mine, but my family's life apart."

-Christina Canavan

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