A mother who lost her toddler daughter in a drowning this week wants other parents to know how quickly a child can disappear from sight.
Evangeline Farrugia, who would have turned 2 on Sept 11, drowned in her uncle’s pool Tuesday. She is believed to have crawled through the dog door into the backyard and wound up in the pool.
Amanda Farrugia and her three daughters, twin 15-year-olds and 23-month-old Evangeline, moved to the Valley from Virginia to start a new life.
Farrugia sent the three girls ahead of her on a plane last week, to be met by their uncle, Farrugia’s brother, who lives here just west of Phoenix in Youngtown.
Farrugia and her mother drove across the country but only made it as far as New Mexico. On Sunday, their vehicle broke down and had to be totaled. So, her brother in Phoenix drove to New Mexico to pick up the pair and all their belongings.
Farrugia arrived in the Phoenix area Monday night just in time to tuck Evangeline in bed and catch up with her teen girls.
“I put her to bed and, you know, I woke up in the morning, took the kids to school and it was just any typical day. And never got the chance to put her to bed again,” said Farrugia through her tears.
Within 24 hours, Evangeline would be gone. Family members found her early Tuesday night, in the backyard pool, after having been out of sight for about 10 minutes, according to early reports by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s just such a tragedy. Things happen so quickly. Nobody knows when something like this is going to happen and it’s such a preventable accident,” said Farrugia.
It’s believed Evangeline crawled through the doggie door of her uncle’s home. The dog door is only a few feet from the backyard swimming pool.
“She loved swimming. She loved the pool. She kept on calling it the beach. One of the last things that she wanted to do was go to the beach,” said Farrugia.
Not having a doggie door in their home in Virginia, let alone a pool, Farrugia said it just didn’t dawn on her that the doggie door could be a hazard.
“It wasn’t even a thought. It wasn’t something you think of. It never occurred to me, and then as a parent, you feel bad because it’s your job to protect them,” said Farrugia.
Family members did not want to talk about the specifics of what happened because the drowning is still under investigation by Maricopa County sheriff deputies. But they were willing to talk about Evangeline.
“She was amazing. Anybody she met, the cashier at a store or a waitress at a restaurant, everybody remembered her. She made you fall in love with her instantly. There was no way that you were going to meet her and not love her. She loved to make people laugh,” said Farrugia. She added that her daughter was a very special girl who lit up the room.
Faith is what Farrugia said is getting her through. And the fact that she believes in death her daughter saved lives.
“The day this happened the organ donation people called me and I agreed. They were able to harvest three heart valves that are going to be able to save three other babies. So, I have to believe that there is a reason, though I don’t understand,” said Farrugia.
The other thing keeping Farrugia going is her three other daughters, the twins and another daughter who lives out of state with her father.
“We’re all going to miss her but life has to go on and if I stop and just go back then I’m just going to be stuck. And I have three other kids that I have to take care of that God gave me and I can’t be stuck, for them.”
Peace for Farrugia comes in believing her little girl is happy, safe and not hurting. She said the ones hurting are the ones left behind.
A Go Fund Me Account has now been set up to help the girl’s family.
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