NBC4 I-Team

Two Years After 6-Year-Old Girl's Drowning, Family Fights Through Legislature to Prevent Tragedies

NBC Universal, Inc.

With summer right around the corner, many kids will spend their free time in a swimming pool. Yet, nearly every day, children die from drowning.

As the I-Team first reported last year, one family knows this pain first-hand, after their six year old daughter drowned at a nearby day camp. And now they're doing everything they can to spare other families a tragic loss.

Two years ago, 6-year-old Roxie Forbes went to a summer day camp near her home in Pasadena. On her ninth day at camp, just 35 minutes after her parents Elena Matyas and Doug Forbes dropped her off, a phone call came that would forever change their lives.

"The assistant camp director said, 'Elena, there's been an accident. Go directly to Huntington hospital,'" said Matyas. "I saw an ambulance and two police cars and a fire truck. It was a motorcade. And I knew. I knew at that moment."

Roxie had drowned.

"She (Matyas) ran to the ambulance and let out a scream that I will never forget," said Forbes. "We left Roxie looking like the most beautiful child that she is - gorgeous blonde hair, sparkling eyes and beautiful complexion. And in 40 minutes she was bloated, blue, no response."

According to reports by the LA County Sheriff's Department, during her morning pool time, a camp counselor - outside the pool area - spotted Roxie floating face down in the water. The four lifeguards on duty missed it all. Two college-aged counselors pulled her from the water and started CPR.

Hospital reports say when paramedics arrived at the scene, Roxie had no pulse. She went into full cardiac arrest. Doctors later said she had lost all brain function.

"Within 24 hours, when you literally have to disconnect a machine from your daughter's beating heart, how do you live that down?" said Forbes.

Since Roxie's death, Matyas and Forbes have tirelessly worked to prevent childhood drowning, the leading cause of death in young children. They've fought for stronger state oversight of summer camps.

And most recently, they've proposed legislation that would allow six million California children to learn about aquatic safety through programs run by the Department of Education, serving school districts and charter schools. The bill is supported by Mayor Garcetti and the Michael Phelps Foundation.

This third week of May has also been declared "Roxie's Wish" by the state legislature, and the focus is drowning prevention. Matyas and Forbes have many tips and education videos on their website.

It's all in an effort to spare other families the unthinkable.

"Do you want to see more faces like ours?" asked Forbes.

Contact Us