Bradenton family spreads water safety awareness, prevention after toddler drowns

Lylah Bardwell, 3, passed away in April 2021 after falling into the family pool
Posted at 3:55 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 16:32:10-04

BRADENTON, Fla. — A Florida family is warning spring breakers about drowning risks after experiencing their own tragedy.

Three-year-old Lylah Bardwell passed away last April. Lylah's father, Tom Bardwell, says she opened the gate around their pool and fell in, while he went to take a phone call.

"I think about what happened that day, and I think about that glimpse of taking my eyes off of her," he said.

Lylah Bardwell is one of 19 drownings, or near-drownings, of children in Manatee County in 2021.

Lylah Bardwell
Lylah Bardwell, 3, passed away in April 2021 after falling into the family pool.

As the Bardwell family shares their painful story, they are supported by county leaders who want adults to teach kids about the dangers of the water.

They suggest these three ways to prevent an accidental drowning:

  • Have a gate around pools
  • Learn CPR
  • Always have someone designated to watch children in the water

State officials say drowning is a silent killer that can happen in seconds and in just inches of water. They say it's the number one cause of death for children under the age of five.

Florida Drowning Stats:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, Florida is ranked 6th in the U.S. for unintentional drowning deaths of all ages. 
  • Florida hit a record high in 2021 with 98 child drowning deaths.
  • From 2017 to 2019, Florida ranked the highest in the U.S. for unintentional drownings of children ages one to four.

To see more ways to prevent a drowning, click here.