Texas mom let her toddler drown at water park, more interested in phone than child, witnesses say

Charged in the avoidable drowning death of her toddler, a Texas influencer–who was more interested in her phone than her son–tried to place blame on the lifeguards at the waterpark where he died, suggesting it was their duty to keep her child safe.

Focused on posting live clips on Instagram instead of watching little Anthony Leo Malave, Jessica Weaver, 35, will soon face judgement in a court that will hear how she allowed her son to drown at an El Paso water park.

On May 13, Anthony Leo Malave was playing alone at the Camp Cohen Water Park, in El Paso Texas, while his mother, lying poolside, allegedly soaked up the sunshine and shared her day with social media followers.

On August 30, Jessica Weaver, 35, was arrested in connection with the drowning death of Anthony and charged with injury to a child by omission.

Weaver argues she did nothing wrong and says if the park had better measures in place, Anthony would still be alive. She sued the city of El Paso for a sum of $1 million.

Weaver said she believes the city should be pursuing charges against the lifeguards on duty that day, and not her.

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Posted by El Paso Water Parks on Saturday, May 14, 2022

“The city had the soft opening to get their operations going but it cost my son’s life because they weren’t ready,” she said in an interview with KFOX14. “They weren’t ready for a drowning, they weren’t ready for the response.”

Weaver said EMS was called at 5:09 p.m. and arrived at the scene at 5:14 p.m. but said the response at the park was a “slow train wreck.”

Suggesting the incident could have been avoided with a faster response time and better trained staff, Weaver continues, “Children trying to save children, and I understand they are young lifeguards but at least have someone who has done this before, you’re trained to do this but it’s different to be trained than to actually go through a situation.”

Despite her attempts to deflect, El Paso Police allege the toddler’s death is a result of Weaver’s failure to properly care for her child.

Responding to her counter claims in a press conference, El Paso District Attorney Bill Hick struck back, saying, “There are numerous witnesses that have come forward and have given their account that they were there at the park, they were watching, and they saw her not paying attention to her child.” Hicks continued, “It’s posted in numerous places over the waterpark that any child younger than six years old needs to be attended at the park, and she wasn’t doing that.”

He added, “A lifeguard is not a babysitter. They’re a last resort in hopefully saving a life.”

Meanwhile, in her arrest report, numerous witnesses offered damning evidence against the negligent mother, sharing with investigators exactly what they saw the day little Anthony drowned.

One witness said she saw a woman, matching Weaver’s description, “on her phone, sitting outside of a pool for over an hour,” and “never looking up or paying attention to anything.”

A second witness at the water park recalls a woman, believed to be Weaver, encouraging “the toddler to go into the pool before walking away and leaving the boy by himself.” The same witness added “it took Weaver five minutes to run to the pool after lifeguards had blown the whistle for everyone to get out.”

A third said the mother did not immediately react to the situation, and was later shocked to learn Weaver was the mother of the drowning child.

A couple of witnesses claim they saw “Weaver laying down and singing along to her phone,” and one remembers doing that “for approximately seven minutes before the toddler was pulled out of the water.”

One park goer watched the toddler swimming unattended and without a life vest, and noted life vests were free for anyone to use. Police documents confirm that on that day, there were only 466 people at the park, which has a capacity of 1,460, and life vests were readily available. There were also 18 lifeguards on duty at the time.

Weaver was arrested in her native state of Indiana, and posted her $100,000 bond, and will return to El Paso, where the DA’s office will move forward with an indictment.

Mobile devices are so great but it’s horrible that people are easily distracted, allowing things like this to happen. Anthony Malave was just a toddler and needed his mother, who failed him. We can’t argue statements made by so many eye witnesses–and Weaver’s Instagram post from the waterpark–and we agree with the DA: lifeguards are not babysitters and parents need to take care of their little ones!

Please share this story and let’s encourage people to be more aware of things that are happening in the real world, not just on a phone.