On June 3, after several days of symptoms his family thought were related to a stomach bug, 4-year-old Texas boy "Baby Frankie" Delgado awoke suddenly several hours after complaining that his shoulders hurt and said "ahhh," his father recalls. Then, as his father watched in horror, the young boy took his last breath and died—and by the time paramedics arrived, it was too late to save him. Doctors say that Frankie died of "dry drowning," meaning he'd gotten water into his airways while swimming several days earlier, and his airways became obstructed until ultimately he could not breathe, reports KHOU. Now, in the hopes of warning other parents about this rare complication from swimming, the boy's parents are going public with their story. More than $31,000 has been donated to help with funeral costs on GoFundMe.
"Some children will have symptoms soon after the drowning occurs," one doctor tells ABC13. "Some children will have symptoms later on. They may seem fine." Unlike in the movies, she adds, "It only takes a split second. Drowning is silent." This type of drowning is still very rare, occurring in one to two out of every 100 drownings, another doctor tells WebMD. And in most cases of dry or secondary drowning, the symptoms—vomiting, coughing, chest pain, fatigue, and trouble breathing—are mild and improve on their own. The boy's mother, Tara Delgado, says he'd only been in knee-high water the week before, but even so, his lungs were full of fluid. "There was nothing else they could do for him." (This toddler's mother knew about dry drowning and rushed her to the hospital.)