THE BRONX — A memorial service and funeral for the two 13-year-old cousins who drowned in the Bronx River last week is set to take place this Friday, their family pastor said.
The viewing for Wellington Gavin and Erikson Villa, who got into difficulty while taking a dip next to a pair of docks in Starlight Park Friday afternoon, will start at 3 p.m. at the Bridges Community Church at 1010 East 174th St according to Rev. Joel Bauza, the family’s spokesman.
The funeral will start at 7 p.m.
Bauza said the boys, who both knew how to swim, tried to cool off by hopping into the water just after 3:10 p.m. June 20, after getting out of school. Villa jumped in first but started to have trouble staying afloat, Bauza said.
“Erikson went into the water and his cousin Wellington went behind him to go jump in also,” Bauza said Monday. “But he saw that his cousin was panicking and starting to drown. He went in to save his cousin."
The family of both boys have demanded additional safety measures be installed in the park to prevent future tragedies.
"Please put the gate up around the river or close the park," said Erikson's mother, Eva Villa, during an emotional press conference next to the docks Monday. "Look at me. I'm empty. I'm empty."
The family has also asked the community for financial help so they can bury the cousins alongside other family members back in the Dominican Republic.
Checks or money orders can be made out to Erikson’s father, Robinson Villa, and mailed to the church at 1010 East 174th St., Bronx, NY 10460, he said.