Muscatine couple pleads community to clean up parks, six months after toddler’s death

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 11:05 PM CST
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MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) - Almost six months after the tragic death of their toddler, Two Muscatine parents are hoping to prevent other families from going through the same pain.

Last year on Sept. 16, Michael Enriquez and Mickayla Stott took their two-year-old son Ezail to the park. Tragically he would not make it home that night. Ezail swallowed a ballon left behind on the playground and suffocated.

As the weather warms up this spring the young couple wants others to be aware of what they’re leaving behind in public spaces.

“It all happened so fast, very, very fast,” Enriquez said. “It’s almost like God really didn’t give us a chance.”

It was a sunny Friday afternoon, Enriquez, Stott and their three children went to enjoy the day at Eversmeyer Park in Muscatine.

Enriquez said he remembers Ezail on the playground.

“At one point, my son went down the slide and was acting completely fine,” Enriquez said. “He started walking towards the grass and crying and kind of gasping for air.”

Ezail’s parents described him as “Spunky” and loving, lighting up anytime he’d see another person.

Stott said her son’s death shook her family.

“We were watching him the whole time,” Stott said. “We were watching the girls too. I think that’s when he did it, because it just happened, like in a split second.”

As spring comes along, Stott wants everyone to know there could be unintended consequences to releasing balloons or leaving party decorations behind at parks and other shared spaces.

“Someone probably thought they cleaned up after their event,” Stott said. “Because a one seven-centimeter piece was not disposed of it took my son’s life.”

Six months later, the young family is still figuring out how to pick up the pieces from the tragedy.

“We go to counseling as a family,” Enriquez said. “I think that’s doing us pretty good, but other than that, it’s been really hard ... I just want the people to know that they need to clean up after themselves.”

The couple hopes to start a foundation in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of balloons and other park litter, as well as host clean-up events in the future.

They also encourage other parents to learn CPR.