East Brunswick neighbors are rallying for a local dad mourning the loss of his wife, daughter and father, who drowned in their backyard pool earlier this week.
More than $28,700 had been raised as of Friday afternoon for Akash Patel on a GoFundMe, organized by Sarah Grabowski.
Funds from the page will go toward funeral services for Akash's wife Nisha Patel, 33, father Bharat Patel, 62, and 8-year-old daughter.
"Only weeks living in their new home, on June 22nd, the most heartbreaking and unimaginable thing happened," Grabowski wrote. "On a very hot June afternoon, Akash’s wife and father tried saving his 8-year-old daughter from drowning in their pool. In doing so, they gave their lives trying to save the little girl. All three perished."
The family had been looking forward to moving into their Clearview Road home in late spring.
"New house, nice neighbors, and a supportive community were proving to be a welcomed escape from the global pandemic," the GoFundMe says. "Their new house should have been a haven from the stress of the world and a place to stay safe from the virus."
They had a pool, too. It was mostly shallow -- 3½ feet deep. But there was a portion that was 7 feet deep. Neither the adults nor child knew how to swim, officials have said.
The Patel's idyllic new life was shattered around 4:20 p.m., when a neighbor who heard screaming called 9-1-1. Authorities arrived at the Patel's house to find the three dead in the above-ground pool.
The deaths have been ruled an accidental drowning.
"Not being able to mourn with others makes it so much harder," the page reads.
"Folks have been experiencing this from the start of the Coronavirus epidemic. While people need to respect social distancing, they also want to show support. How can you help when you cannot offer a hug, bring over meals, or even drop off a card sharing words of support?
"After a discussion among friends, we have created this GoFundMe page on behalf of Akash to hopefully help share some of his financial burden."
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