Church Community Comes Together to Support Family of Toddler who Drowned

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ELK GROVE -- "Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house."

At first listen, it seemed like ordinary worship at Country Oaks Baptist Church in Elk Grove. But what is usually the leading voice in praise, at times, had to rely on others for support.

"There's been a tragedy that happened here, with one of our family members," said Pastor Scott Barham.

Just weeks ago the church family had grown by six -- when Evan Fellman joined as leader of the music ministry, bringing along his wife Irena, and their four beautiful children. But Tuesday night their family was forever changed.

"I got the most terrible text ever," Evan Fellman said.

Three-year-old Zev Fellman drowned in a pool. His 10-year-old brother found him. No one is sure exactly how it happened.

"The details around it are still really fuzzy for her, I wasn't there," Evan Fellman said.

The Fellmans had been staying with members of the church congregation in Wilton while they looked for a permanent home. Evan and Irena say their kids had been warned to stay away from the pool, but being from the East Coast, pool vigilance wasn't a part of life they were used to.

"It almost lures you into a false since of security, you're just visiting and it's someone else's pool," Irena Fellman said.

Zev was the youngest Fellman.

If you're wondering if this little boy was as adorable in person as he is in photos, well, apparently he was.

"He would take my cheeks, kiss me on the lips, and say 'Mom, I love you five times' and I would say, 'I love you six times,' and he would say 'No, I love you five times,'" Irena Fellman said.

He was a pure joy, according to his mother, and she says knowing they treasured every moment with him helps ease her pain. Their other comfort, and what has helped Evan to be able to lead a congregation Sunday, is support from people who just weeks ago they didn't know at all.

"People have really stepped in, people we've only just gotten to know but wonderful people," Evan Fellman said.

"Only in America you have strangers come in and say 'How can I help you?'" Irena Fellman said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account for hospital and memorial expenses, if you would like to donate.

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