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6214: Tragedy mars quest for better life (fwd)
From: nozier <email@example.com>
Published Tuesday, December 12, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Tragedy mars quest for better life____ Boy who died in canal mourned
BY IVETTE M. YEE
The parents of 12-year-old Wilfrantz Felix had sent him from Haiti
ago in search of a better life with relatives in Northwest MiamiDade.
Wilfrantz was going to get a pool table for Christmas, but a tragedy
Sunday night ended those plans.
He drowned at about 2:50 p.m. Sunday in a lake just across the street
uncle Joel Lafond's home at 7231 Cold Stream Dr., in Country Club of
Police said Lafond attempted to back his 1987 Honda Accord from his
but couldn't see out his back window and slid into the lake.
Wilfrantz's brother, Schneider, 13, and a cousin, Josie, 12, were also
in the car.
Although Lafond and the other boys made it safely to shore, Wilfrantz
know how to swim. His body was found about 20 minutes after the
submerged in water five to 10 feet from the car. Police said they are
investigating. Lafond was not at home early Monday evening, but
relatives there said it was a tragic accident. ``[Lafond] sent the kids
to get some clothes out of the car, then he decided he was going to park
it near the garage,'' said Bernadette Mazard, 25, Wilfrantz's cousin.
``The water in the lake was very, very high and instead of hitting the
brake, he hit the gas instead.' Mazard said Wilfrantz's parents sent
the children, including another brother, Franzie, 12, to South Florida
to live with family members. Police listed Wilfrantz's address as 6060
NW 186th St., close to Lafond's home. They attended Horace Mann Middle
School in Miami. ``He was a good student and a loving child,'' Mazard
said. Other family members said Wilfrantz enjoyed spending time with his
cousins and playing and watching basketball. ``It's a close-knit family
and the kids were very playful,'' said Vainize Lalemond, 27, a relative.
Mazard said funeral services will be held this weekend. A location has
not been set. ``I miss him,'' said older brother Schneider, his eyes
swollen and red from crying. He said he tried to save him; Wilfrantz was
holding onto his legs as Schneider swam to shore. ``I kept telling him
to hold onto me, but he said, `I can't anymore, the water is too high.'
' Schneider tried to swim faster, but Wilfrantz struggled to hang on.
Then Schneider heard his brother's last words:
``He said, `I know I'm not going to make it. I am going to die.' ''