BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Nicole Hughes and her family go to the same beach with the same families every year.
The six families met in Birmingham when their spouses where training to become doctors at UAB Hospital. Now all in different cities, they have met up for 7 years in June for this beach vacation.
This year's trip was tragic.
On June 10, the Hughes and other families were getting ready to go crab hunting which is the highlight of the trip. They had already eaten dinner and were waiting for it to get dark.
"The kids were watching TV and jumping off the couch," Hughes said.
Hughes says she split a brownie with her 3-year-old son Levi.
"He said, 'Thank you, mommy - yay brownie!," and that was our last interaction," she said.
No more than 2 minutes later, Hughes' world crumbled.
"I looked over the balcony and I saw him in the water. It is a moment I will never ever be able to unsee," she said.
Six of the adults on the trip were doctors and worked quickly to save Levi. One of them even intubated him before the ambulance even got there.
"These are skilled, skilled physicians. They all trained at UAB, but they could not even save him," Hughes said. "A toddler - a 3-year-old - it is not like you imagine where there is going to be splashing or you have 3 to 5 minutes. A child immediately falls in and cries.
"Sixty-nine percent of children that drown are not expected to be swimming. It is not a swim time and yet they are found in the water, so just like with Levi," she said.
These statistics are what started Hughes' mission called Levi's Legacy. It's goal is to educate parents of this silent killer.
Hughes has created a tag that designates one adult as the pool guardian. The adult is constantly watching over the pool, even when it is not being used.
"I miss the life I Ied before June 10, the life where I didn't know that your world could end in an instant of looking over the balcony. So it is horrible," Hughes said.
She hopes this keeps other parents from going through what they did less than a month ago.
You can learn more about Levi's Legacy here.