More than 90 people have donated to a memorial that will honor Will Smithson, a 3-year-old Clayton boy who drowned July 9 in the LionsGate pool.
Donors have pledged about $5,000 so far through the popular crowd-funding website GoFundMe.com.
Jennifer Massey-Cuthrell, who created the fundraiser, said she couldn’t share any details about what’s planned. However, the website says the money will go toward a memorial for Smithson.
The 3-year-old was unresponsive when taken out of the LionsGate pool on Amelia Church Road the afternoon of July 9. First responders performed CPR for close to an hour but could not save the child.
The pool is reviewing its handling of the incident.
As of Thursday afternoon, a total of 97 people had given $5,200 to the online fundraiser, surpassing a goal of $5,000.
Many donors left notes with their contributions, offering prayers and support for the family. Some left scriptures, like “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“There has not been a moment that we have not thought of this family and cried over the heartache that they must be going through,” Gloria Messer wrote. “We pray for God to uplift them and bring them peace during this time.”
In Smithson’s obituary, his family referred to him as a “bright light in this world” and a “precious, fun loving and beautiful child.”
The family said he “will be missed by many he touched, especially his relatives, church family and friends.”
The family asked that contributions be made to Covenant Presbyterian Church in Wendell in memory of Will Smithson.
The incident occurred in about 3 feet of water, at the shallow end of the pool, said Charles Francis, an attorney who represents LionsGate. At least five lifeguards were on duty, Francis said, and the pool has started an internal review of what happened.
About 10 to 15 people were in the pool when the boy was pulled out, and about 25 more were on the pool deck, according to Francis.
Two women, including one who identified herself as a nurse, were performing CPR when EMS, Clayton firefighters and police arrived shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, said Josh Holloman, the EMS division chief for Johnston County Emergency Services.
First responders then took over CPR. The boy’s parents were at his side.
Holloman said they made their best effort at resuscitation. “Everything that could have been provided was provided,” he said.
One paramedic was assigned to stay with the boy’s family during CPR. After he was pronounced dead, an EMS crew drove the family to the morgue.
“Our concern at that point was their grieving,” Holloman said.
The first responders who worked on the boy later got together to talk and pray and didn’t return to work until they were ready, he said.
“It was very important that we gave the crews time to decompress,” Holloman said. “Many of us have families and kids; we can’t help but feel for the family.”
The pool was closed the next day. Scott Hammond, aquatics director for a group of pools that includes the one at LionsGate, said in a statement that their thoughts and prayers are with the boy’s family.
“The LionsGate community is a tight-knit family community, and we are heartbroken at this tragedy,” Hammond said.
The LionsGate subdivision is a Fred Smith Company community on Amelia Church Road between Shotwell Road and U.S. 70 Business. LionsGate residents have access to the pool, as do residents of other Fred Smith Company communities and those who buy public memberships.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104