A Georgetown mother said she never knew the thing that killed her son was even a danger. Now, Julie Damian is channeling her pain into a passion for raising awareness and changing fencing laws.
In August of 2017, the Damian family had just moved into the home they planned to raise their three sons in, the house on the quiet street with the big backyard for the boys to play.
Kade Damian, the middle son, was one month shy of his third birthday when his mother Julie said her world was shattered in a matter of minutes.
"We walked around the corner and found him hanging on the fence," Damain said.
Damian remembers it was a typical Thursday afternoon. After day care, Kade and his younger brother Luke were playing in the backyard. Kade was riding his favorite John Deer tractor and Julie could hear him just on the other side of the fence. "You could hear them zipping around the yard laughing and playing and then all of the sudden it was quiet," Damian said.
Julie and her husband Mark were in the driveway talking to their neighbor who noticed the youngest, Luke had wandered into the front yard. "He said hey your little guy is around the corner there, but we were like how did he get up here?" she said.
Mark walked through the front yard toward him and noticed the side gate to their backyard open. That's when Mark saw Kade hanging from the wrought iron fence in their neighbor's back yard. "I remember the sound of his voice when he came around the corner. He said Julie call 9-1-1 and it was just the sound of his voice. He had Kade in his arms and he said call 911," Damain said.
Mark, CPR trained, started chest compressions, but doctors said he was gone almost instantly. "His neck went perfectly in between those bars, and when he tried to pull back his neck and head were stuck and it hit the carotid artery on the pole," Damian said.
Damian said she never thought a wrought iron fence could hurt let alone kill one of their kids. "It all plays in your head over and over again and you think what could I have done differently?" Damian said.
Now, she's turning her grief into a mission, fighting to change fencing laws so this never happens to another family. "There have been communities that have made the changes so that's what we're looking for," Damian said.
Wrought iron fences can be modified by adding a flat strip across the top that would prevent something or someone from getting caught in one.
The Sun City community in Georgetown banned similar fences because of the danger to deer jumping those fences.
Her petition has more than 1,000 signatures. Damian plans to take the petition to Georgetown city leaders to make fences safer for everyone, starting with the one that Kade died on.
"It's pretty painful to look out our window every day and still see that fence still there," Damian said.
Damian also started a nonprofit called the Playful Child Foundation to honor Kade. They plan to build a park in his memory.