Broward County

‘It's For Him': Father's Quest to Become Swimming Instructor After Son Drowns in Pool

3-year-old Cleighton Wallace Casimir drowned in his family's pool, and his father is determined not to let his son’s death go in vain

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A South Florida father lived the unimaginable after his son drowned in their family pool. But out of that tragedy came a newfound calling.

Flemens Casimir’s son was just 3 years old when he slipped out into the backyard and drowned in the pool at the family’s Coral Springs home on Jan. 15, 2021.

“While I was watching my son and my daughter, my son got out the back door, and I didn’t notice that he got out," Flemens recalled. "And then when I went to go look for him, I noticed that the pool gate was pulled down. When I looked in the pool, that’s when I found him floating."

Kim Wynne has the details on the breaking news.

Cleighton Wallace Casimir loved hugs, superheroes, his family, and the water. Cleighton had autism and always gravitated toward the water. Flemens said he struggled to get him into swimming lessons because of the pandemic.

Now, Flemens is determined not to let his son’s death go in vain. At 48, Flemens is now taking swim lessons at Aquachild in North Miami Beach every single week.

“I decided to go learn how to swim and eventually become an instructor to teach kids diagnosed with autism and to teach kids, inner city kids,” he said.

Scott Launer, the owner of Aquachild, is helping him do just that.

“I have to say he’s really dedicated, he went from not swimming at all to complete swimming independently, so it’s amazing,” Launer said.

The Florida Department of Children and Families reports that in 2021, nearly 100 children in Florida lost their lives by drowning. A dismal record.

“I think it’s one of those things that the other parent thinks they’re watching the child and you know, they get out of sight,” Launer said.

It’s something Flemens hopes to prevent as an instructor someday.

“If I can help other families from going 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 start a scholarship fund in Cleighton’s honor.

“Every breath I take, it’s for him,” Flemens said.

Experts recommend these steps to prevent this tragedy:

  • Teach your children how to swim
  • Make sure your eyes are on your children while they’re swimming
  • Install a four-sided fence around the pool, keep furniture away from the fence and keep it locked.
  • Think about installing alarms on any doors
  • If a child ever goes missing, check the pool first
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