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Niles community rallying behind parents of boy who drowned Saturday

NOW: Niles community rallying behind parents of boy who drowned Saturday

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NILES, Mich. — The parents of an 8-year-old Niles boy said they were at a birthday party on Saturday when their son fell in a pool and drowned. 

Ayden Smith was standing with his father Adam Smith, celebrating a friend’s birthday on Saturday, when he told his dad he did not want any cake. 

“He said I don’t want any cake I said okay baby,” Smith said. “I literally was standing right there and he was next to me and within minutes they were pulling him out of the pool I didn’t even realize he had left my side.” 

The Michigan State Police said the drowning is currently an open investigation. Smith said Ayden’s viewing is tentatively set for this Friday. 

“We are trying hard to stay strong for each other it is hard we haven’t slept at all,” said Smith. 

The community has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral costs. 

He described Ayden as a boy who loved his family and baseball. Smith was a player for the Brandywine Cal Ripken 8U Team. 

On Sunday, the 10U and 11U Brandywine Cal Ripken team wore Ayden’s team number 23 on their jerseys at a tournament in Goshen. The tournament director, Bob Smith, said he painted Ayden’s initials and number on each field to honor the player. 

“Losing a child unless you’ve been through it I don’t think anybody could even realize what that’s like,” said Smith. 

On Monday, Ayden’s teammates are set to host a candlelight vigil in his memory at the Brandywine Cal Ripken Fields on Bell Road in Niles. Organizers are asking for people to wear Ayden’s favorite color blue to the vigil. 

Smith and Ayden’s mother Jessica McNees said they plan on attending the vigil. The two returned to the park for the first time on Sunday and said it was hard to be in a place their son loved so much. 

“I’ll never be able to see my baby doing what he loves ever,” McNees said. 

Smith said the family is thankful for the community’s support. However, he said the following message for people: 

“Just hold your babies close you never know when you’re going to lose them just keep them close,” said Smith. 

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