Two young children died after they ended up in a South Florida canal, a tragedy that has shaken the victims' community and launched a police investigation into how they ended up in the water.
Mourners have been visiting the family all day Wednesday to pay their respects. On Tuesday night, screams of pain from the mother of the young victims filled the the family's Margate neighborhood as she learned her daughters, 4-year-old Louidline Louima and 2-year-old Louidjiena Louima, did not make it.
Since the victims' mother only speaks Creole, a relative was told by police to break the news. "I was telling the mom to not lose her faith," said Djemsy Corvil.
The mother said the girls were very active and liked to ride bikes and always played together. They were probably doing just that when they disappeared.
Officials said the sisters were in the back of the home along Northwest 27th Street and 60th Avenue, by the canal, being watched by their father. Police said he went inside to get a glass of water, and in that moment, the two children went into the canal.
Louigens Louima, the children's father, says he has no idea how it happened. "Before I went in my house, I see one lock minus one lock. So I put wire [on the fence], and when I don't see my kids, I go in the back and check, and it's not open."
The children's father said he always keeps the girls within eyesight. "Never. I don't know what happened yesterday," he said.
However, he stepped away for a glass of water, and they were out of sight for just a moment. When he could not find them, he called 911, just after 4:30 p.m., and responding officers and firefighters began a frantic search, even using area resident Carmen Noonan's kayak to scan the water. "They had a boat on the way, but they wanted to hurry up and get in the water," said Noonan.
A neighbor helped police search along the bank. "I'm running, chasing the cop. I see a little baby floating," he said. "The cop jumped in, he pulled her out. While he pulled her out, I was standing here looking at him. The baby's lifeless."
The 2-year-old was discovered first. Moments later, firefighters found 4-year-old Louidline underwater. "Her body was limp ... it looked like she was probably dead," said witness Mark Young.
Both girls were given CPR and were transported to Northwest Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.
Relatives said the girls' father was the only adult home at the time of the incident.
Neighbor Natalie Murray said she never saw the girls by themselves. "I would see them with their parents all the time, walking down the street and all that," she said.
Louidline and Louidjiena are the couple's only children. Corvil said their sudden passing has left their mother devastated. "She lost everything, cause she ain't have nobody with her right now," he said.
Margate Police said an investigation is underway. No charges have been filed.
The family said they are unable to afford the two girl's funerals and have set up an account at Wells Fargo to help raise money.
If anyone wants to help the family with burial costs, they can go to any Wells Fargo Bank branch and say that they want to continue to the Louima family fund.