LAYTON — The mother of a 4-year-old boy who drowned in the Weber River early last month wants the public to know her son jumped into the water and that he was being carefully watched at the time he did.
Melanie Anderson said Corbin did not slip as reported by emergency officials and that his actions happened so quickly, it was too late to help him.
“People say, ‘Our kids will never drown because we are always with them,’ ” she said. “We were right there, three adults, and he still drowned.”
Anderson said she wants other parents to know that the appearance of water can be deceiving.
“My husband was shocked that he was 6-feet, 4-inches and he couldn’t touch the bottom,” she said.
While she and her family are devastated by their loss, Anderson said they remain grateful to those who helped look for Corbin and that the tragedy didn’t ultimately include the other three members of their family.
“Our older son was there, and he has told us that he thinks he’s a coward for not jumping in after his brother,” she said.
The mother said she’ll be forever grateful that, in the moments after Corbin jumped into the water, her friend who was photographing the family took her other son, who is 8, some distance away and wouldn’t let him jump in, too.
“She took him far away and held onto him so he couldn’t go,” Anderson said. “We weren’t even thinking about him.”
Both Anderson and her husband, Brian, jumped in after their son, she said.
First it was Brian, who ended up washing up against some rocks, and then Anderson, who had to be rescued by her husband, who had gotten out when she got in.
“I got stuck in a whirlpool, and I was swimming as hard as I could, but I couldn’t keep my head out of the water.
“… My husband had to get back in a little bit and reach his arms as far as he could to help me,” she said, recalling hearing her husband say, “I can’t do it without you.”
Then, she said, Brian went in again and had to be rescued by a passer-by.
Anderson said she agreed to an interview because she wants Corbin’s life and death to stand for something.
“I’m hoping someone won’t put their kid on that rock,” she said. “We hope he didn’t die for no reason, that he can affect something somehow.”
She’s hoping people realize the dangers out there for children.
“We want people to know that, if you put your kids on that rock, what can happen to them and really how fast your life will change,” she said.
“He jumped and he was gone so fast, and our life changed in a minute, and we want people to know that.”
Anderson said she and her husband knew their son loved the water. He had jumped into other wet places at other times.
But she said she and her husband wouldn’t have gone to the river that day had they understood the depth and the current there.
“We knew he was going to try to get in the water,” she said. “We had no idea what the water was like. If we had any idea, we wouldn’t have let him near there.”
She said rocks showing on one side of the river seemed to indicate that the water wasn’t deep.
“If we were thinking that way, other people were thinking that way,” she said.
Perhaps Corbin’s fascination with water began when he was unable to be in water for the first three years of his life because of health problems.
He had tubes in his ears twice. He had his tonsils and adeniods taken out and didn’t speak much as a result.
“He didn’t really talk until he was 3, almost 4,” his mother said.
“By the time we lost him, he was talking all the time. He was communicating, and he had never been like that before.
“Before we lost him, we got to actually hear him tell us that he loved us.”
And now she’s especially grateful for those who helped her son learn to talk.
She said it was workers at a preschool at Ellison Park Elementary and at Kids First Day Care who had the skills to work with her son effectively.
She’s also grateful for those rescue workers who searched for two weeks for her son and for the man who found him on Mother’s Day.
“We want to thank them as many times as possible and Jeff Price for finding him,” she said.
Anderson said she didn’t understand the depth of closure she would receive from having her son’s body returned.
“Now that we’ve found his body, I can go to his grave and talk to him,” she said.
“I didn’t realize it was going to be that way.”