Mother describes son's life slipping through her fingers

Mother describes son's life slipping through her fingers »Play Video
Dominick Valencia is seen in a photo provided by his family. The 5-year-old boy drowned Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Bakersfield's Beardsley Canal.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Less than 24 hours after her 5-year-old son Dominick drowned in the Beardsley Canal, mother Yvette Valencia was overwhelmed with grief, trying to figure out what she could have done differently to save her son's life.

Uncut interview: Mother describes son's drowning >>

Valencia said it was around noon Thursday when she and Dominick walked from their apartment in Oildale to the Vons grocery store, which is just on the other side of Highway 99. Valencia said they took a popular shortcut that runs along the canal and under the highway bridge. The canal is fenced, and pedestrian access is not allowed.

While walking under the bridge, Valencia said Dominick tried to grab a guppy in the water and fell into the canal.

Valencia said she jumped in after Dominick and grabbed him by the shirt, but she had nothing to cling to and eventually let go. Valencia's bloodied and bandage fingers are a tragic reminder of a mother's final attempt to save her son's life.

Enrique Gonzalez, the boy's father, said Dominick was an artist who loved pizza. Gonzalez said he will never forget the final words Dominick said to him Thursday morning: "I love you, pop."

The coroner's office confirmed Friday that Dominick's death was an accidental drowning.

The family has set up an account at Chase under the name Dominick Valencia to fund funeral expenses.