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Mom pleads after child drowns in family pond: ‘Hold their hand forever’

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CHARLOTTE COURTHOUSE, Va. -- Two-year-old Josiah Rodriguez had just returned home after walking his older sisters to their school bus stop Tuesday when his mother had to use the restroom.

"I heard him playing in the house and then it got quiet," Tiffany Birdsill said. "At first I thought he was in his room playing, but it was quiet for too long."

Josiah Rodriguez walks his older sisters to school on the morning he died. (PHOTO: Tiffany Birdsill)

Josiah Rodriguez walks his older sisters to school on the morning he died. (PHOTO: Tiffany Birdsill)

Birdsill quickly exited the bathroom and found an empty home.

She said she then noticed a door that led outside was open.

"He had never been able to open that door before," Birdsill said. "I guess there is a first time for everything."

The frantic mother ran outside hoping to find her son on the family's five-acre lot on Abilene Road in Charlotte Courthouse.

Josiah Rodriguez (PHOTO: Tiffany Birdsill)

Josiah Rodriguez (PHOTO: Tiffany Birdsill)

It was not until she stepped up on a neighbor's porch that she saw Josiah's red shirt in a fish pond on their property.

He was floating, face down, in the water.

Birdsill said she raced to the pond and with the help of a passerby brought her son back to dry land. There they performed CPR.

An ambulance soon arrived and took the child to a hospital in Farmville, Birdsill said.

From there, Josiah was flown to VCU Medical Center. On Tuesday night, doctors pronounced the child dead.

Charlotte County Sheriff's Captain Howard Hobgood said investigators believed the death was simply a tragic accident.

Birdsill said she believed she knew why her son ran to the water.

Josiah Rodriguez

Josiah Rodriguez

"He liked to go to the pond with his sisters," Birdsill said. "We'd sit by the pond and look at the fish. He loved the fish. He wanted to see the fish."

Birdsill called her son adventurous and full of life.

She said he was obsessed with the Disney movie Cars and its star character Lightning McQueen.

He also loved his grandfather, "more than anyone in the world," she said.

Grandfather David Wilcox is a truck driver and little Josiah loved to visit his granddad's big rig.

Josiah Rodriguez and his grandfather (PHOTO: Tiffany Birdsill)

Josiah Rodriguez and his grandfather (PHOTO: Tiffany Birdsill)

Birdsill said she made the decision to donate her son's organs to help another family with children in need.

"I have truly never met a child that touched so many people's hearts," she said about her son who she affectionately called "The Boy."

She wanted to make sure other parents heard her story and used it as a reminder to never let their young children out of their sight.

"Make sure you hold their hand forever," she said through tears.

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