3-year-old boy dies after being pulled out of canal: “I saw my baby drown”

When the family of Anthony Tolano couldn’t find him, they immediately began searching for the three-year-old boy because they knew he liked to hide around their Phoenix home. “We were running around the house, looking for him all over the house, he liked to hide under the blankets, and we wouldn’t see him until we touched the blankets,” said the boy’s grandmother, Dora Alvarez Tolano.”

Sadly, the family soon realized it was not a game this time as they couldn’t find the toddler in his usual spots.

Eventually, Dora imagined the worst after she heard the sound of an ambulance passing by. “My heart told me something then – at that moment, I heard when the ambulance was coming. I grabbed my car and followed,” Dora recalled. The grandmother left the house and found little Anthony about 800 feet away from home, according to FOX 10 Phoenix.

Anthony was rescued after a passerby saw him floating in the water of the Grand Canal near 55th Avenue and Osborn Road. “I saw my baby drown,” added the heartbroken grandmother. Sgt. Mercedes Fortune from the Phoenix Police Department told PEOPLE that they received a call about the child at around 5:30 pm. First responders immediately rescued the boy and administered CPR before rushing him to the hospital. Unfortunately, Anthony was in critical condition and did not survive the incident.

It is believed that Anthony may have wandered off after possibly getting out of the house through the backyard.

“It’s such a great pain,” said the grandmother, who revealed that Anthony was a kid who loved to play with water. The family was planning to buy a kiddie pool for the little one but the tragedy occurred before they could fulfill the wishes they had for the boy. “What I’m going to miss most is his joy, he loved to dance, he loved to watch videos and laugh and he would laugh out loud, that’s what I’m going to miss most,” Dora said, as reported by FOX 10 Phoenix.

Anthony’s cousin, Andrew Tolano, also shared, “He was loving, he loved his family a lot, it’s sad that he had to go out like that. Beautiful child.”

After Anthony passed away on Sunday, May 23, well-wishers left balloons, flowers, and toys next to the canal where the toddler was found. Many showed their support for the grieving family as well. “Hopefully, this will never happen again and we could all learn one thing… it’s not about what happened and how it happened, it’s about what’s afterwards,” a family friend, Rosa Galope, said. “What are we gonna do afterwards for this family?”

With the intention of raising money for the family, a GoFundMe page was created and has so far received $2,445 out of its $10,000 goal.

Holding on to what Anthony left behind, his grandmother revealed that she will never be able to forget the moments they shared together, according to 12 News,

“I have all of those memories of him, I can’t get them out of there,” she pointed towards her head and said. “I will hold them tight in my heart.”