Community mourns drowning deaths of Uniontown children
Uniontown families and neighbors Thursday mourned the loss of two young brothers who drowned in a swimming pool a night earlier.
Hunter George Smith, 3, and Hayden Lewis Smith, 1, were pulled out of the pool in the backyard of their family’s home on Whiteman Avenue around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday by their grandfather, Franklin Hough, and aunt Hannah Smith, said the boys’ grandmother, Debbie Smith, 46, who has custody of the children.
“I ran. I ran. And then I saw Hunter laying on the table,” said aunt Abbie Smith, 16, who had returned from high school band camp and given the boys a bath, preparing them for bed.
“Frankie had him on the table doing CPR,” said Debbie Smith, who was at work at the time. “Frankie jumped in the pool, clothes and all.”
Debbie Smith said Hunter and Hayden were “Curious Georges. And when you have two boys together, look out. I mean they were 1 and 3. Curious, very curious.”
A small blue blanket was draped over a chair on the Smith’s porch Thursday. A bag of children’s clothes sat on a table at the Fayette County home.
Hunter and Hayden enjoyed playing with toys, eating and watching Spider-Man and Batman, Abbie Smith said, adding she had just bought them new summer clothes.
The family threw him a Spider-Man themed party for Hunter’s birthday on June 3. He was set to start Head Start of Fayette County in August, and was excited about riding the school bus.
The family nicknamed Hayden “Benjamin Button.” His birthday was Sept. 10. Debbie Smith said the boys were close, always giving each other hugs.
Virginia Smith, 64, who lives across the street from the family, would babysit the boys two or three times a week.
“The oldest one, yesterday morning before he went to (daycare), I said, ‘Can (I) get a kiss?’ He gave me a kiss, but I never thought that’d be the last time,” she said, holding back tears.
Sharon Moore, 65, who has lived two houses down from the family for 28 years, said her granddaughter, Zionna Moore, 9, would go over and play with the boys when she came to visit.
“The little kids would always run up and down the sidewalk,” Sharon Moore said. “I’ll miss their little feet pitter-pattering down the sidewalk. They’d come down on their little scooter and just ride back and forth. Your grandkids are your heart, I’m telling you.”
The incident is under investigation, Uniontown police Lt. Thomas Kolencik said. Further information would not available until at least Friday, police said.
Drowning is the number one cause of death for children between ages 1 and 4, with 57% of drownings occurring in pools, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization. The National Safety Council added that most drowning deaths are due to falling into a pool or being left alone in a bathtub.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, about 1,000 children drown each year, with 70% of the instances occurring between May and August. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said between 2005 and 2014, there were more than 3,535 drownings annually in the U.S.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .