MIAMI (WSVN) - A grief-stricken South Florida mother said a split-second decision changed her life forever, after a day at the pool led to tragedy for her 7-year-old son.

Speaking to 7News through a translator, Rita Martinez said her son, Jarbi Peña, could light up a room. “Everything, he was the world to me,” she said.

Rita Martinez
Rita Martinez

Mother and son were at a barbecue pool party at the Four Ambassadors Condominiums in Brickell, Sunday, when she saw Harvey at the bottom of the pool, unresponsive.

Martinez said she had only looked away from her son for a brief moment. “My son was next to me the whole time,” she said. “I got up to serve him some food. He ate some food. Then I got up to get a piece of food for myself, and in that interim, my son fell in the pool.”

According to investigators, Jarbi was pulled out of the water and family members performed CPR while paramedics were on the way.

“Paramedics arrived in about three minutes, and they found this child without a pulse,” said Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll. “He was not breathing, and they continued CPR and life-saving efforts all the way to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Pediatric Unit.

But ultimately, Jarbi would not make it. After four days of fighting to survive, this little boy who loved Lego blocks died.

“Emotionally, it is devastating,” said Martinez. “I have no words to explain.”

Jarbi Peña
Jarbi Peña

Martinez emigrated to the U.S. from Honduras in 2013. The sole family provider and single mother said she’s trying to make sure her son has a proper burial. “I do not have a steady job, and financially, I need to bury my son. I need the financial help,” she said.

“Drop by drop, the bucket gets filled,” said Maria Carranza, Harvey’s aunt. “If it’s a drop, or if it’s a whole pouring cup, it is welcome.”

Jarbi’s favorite Lego figurines are in the same spot where he’d left them, a constant reminder of the now empty void his mother feels. “I call out to all the mothers out there to, please, do not take your eyes off your children,” said Martinez, “because anything can happen in a second. Tell them you love them every day, and don’t leave them alone.”

Family members told 7News, in addition to facing funeral expenses, they are trying to figure out how they will pay the medical bills from when the boy was rushed to the hospital. If you would like to make a donation to a GoFundMe page set up by the family, click here.

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