Police are investigating after a young child drowned in a river in Fort Lauderdale late Tuesday night.
Fort Lauderdale Police say officers arrived at the scene of the 700 block of Southwest 4th Court shortly after 10 p.m. after reports of the child missing.
A relative told NBC 6 that the child's grandmother was watching him that night. The toddler snuck out of the house, and surveillance footage shows him walking to the marina and edge towards the dock.
The toddler's mother is devastated by the loss of her son, Cormel Willie Bullock.
"He loved us and I can’t wake up to that anymore," Deana’e Titus, Cormel’s mother said.
She called the drowning a tragic accident. Titus says her mother was watching him Tuesday night when he got out of the house and wandered over to Cooley’s Landing Marina.
"I don’t think any parent is prepared to be at work and know their child unfortunately was able to get a hold of that lock and slip out," Titus said.
Police recovered the toddler under the 7th Avenue bridge more than a hour later.
His mother and great aunt say he loved the water but was still learning how to swim. They say Cormel turned two in February and that he was curious, loving and eager to learn.
"I loved that little boy. I did everything in my power as a mother would, for him and I’m heartbroken," Titus said.
The family says they’re hoping to eventually raise money in Cormel’s name and give those funds to parents who can't afford swim lessons.
The boy’s Pre-K school will be holding a balloon release for him Friday evening.
The YMCA is offering free swimming lessons for everyone six-months-old and older from August 30th to September 3rd. For more information, click on this link.