Iowa City family speaking out following son’s drowning at neighborhood pond

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - An Iowa City family is sharing their story after losing their 8-year-old son in an accidental drowning last month.

John Muhindo lost his life, leaving behind six siblings.

“We love John,” said his 15-year-old sister. “John was the type of guy where he’ll make you laugh even if you don’t want to. We’ll never see him again, and that’s a thing that we can’t do anything about it.”

John’s mom, Nyota Bahati, said the day he drowned he went to play with a friend at their neighborhood pond.

“Around almost 55 minutes, and she got a call that John had drowned,” Bahati said, via a translator. “That was almost the first time that John went and played there in the water because most of the time she used to tell John water is very dangerous.”

It happened on May 26. John was playing near the pond with 4 other kids. One of them went under the water and John tried to help. He was transported to a local hospital where he died on June 2.

Since then, the family says they’ve gotten a lot of community support.

“He literally loved John,” John’s dad said, via a translator. “He’s thankful for everybody that supported us in these moments and he hopes the family keep growing.”

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Alissa Scheruer said drowning deaths have increased.

“This is the first drowning event that we’ve had in our jurisdiction of Johnson County this year,” Scheruer said. “With the pandemic and the coronavirus, people have gotten more backyard swimming pools, hot tubs, and just alternative ways to find entertainment.”

Scheruer suggested kids take swimming lessons, always wear a life jacket, and never swim alone.

“We encourage those that do you have swimming pools or hot tubs to have a fenced-in area,” Scheruer said.

John’s mom said she wishes there was protection at their neighborhood pond and just hopes this never happens to anyone else.

“You just want to protect your children, so she asked if it’s possible, that water is very dangerous, and they need to cover it. They need to put security around it,” Bahati said, through a translator. “She says the pain that she’s feeling can never come out and she never wishes it to someone else.”

If people want to help out, they can give to the family’s GoFundMe. Expenses will go towards funeral arrangements and to help the family during this difficult time.

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