Victim’s Mother Turns Mourn into Movement
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 21:04
Howard student Davon Franklin drowned during spring break in 2010. His family holds a picture of him
"Shame, Shame, Shame. I don't want to go to Mexico no more, more, more," sang Inez Franklin, as she video-chatted with her son, Davon Green-Franklin, via Skype in March 2010. Davon, 22, who was vacationing in Cancun, Mexico with friends during his last spring break recess before graduating from Howard University, lit up when he saw his mother's face through his computer screen.
The two chatted briefly, and after exchanging a flood of 'I love you's,' Inez kissed him goodbye through the screen and closed her laptop. The next morning, the traumatic irony of that playful, yet meaningless jingle she sang to Davon, would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Inez remembered the morning of March 14, 2010 as an unusually quiet and serene one. She and her husband, Chavez Franklin, had done their usual Sunday routine; they attended church and then went out for a late breakfast. And just as they had discussed with their son Davon a few days earlier, they went to the movie theater to watch "Alice in Wonderland."
Later that evening, the two went back home, and sat down together to begin making arrangements for Davon's college graduation trip to Las Vegas. Just then, the phone rang.
It was Davon's girlfriend, who was in medical school in Antigua. Inez's deepest fears suddenly grew stronger from the moment she noticed something off in Jasmine's tone. Stricken with anxiety, Inez immediately asked, "Is my son alive?"
Overcome with the heaviest of grief, Inez handed the phone to her husband. The only child she had was dead, and without any information as to his exact whereabouts or what happened, she felt completely out of control as her world came crumbling down around her.
Davon's classmates frantically explained to his parents over the phone that he had drowned off shore after experiencing a cramp while swimming in the ocean. Because he was a trained swimmer and athlete, Davon's friends knew something was wrong when they noticed him thrashing about in the waves and screaming for help.
While several of his friends quickly swam out to rescue him, another sprinted through the sand back towards the resort property to find a lifeguard.
"I am going to die!" cried Davon, as he gasped for air and struggled to keep his head above water. Two of his friends finally reached him just as he was succumbing to exhaustion, desperately trying to keep himself afloat.
Minutes later, Davon's friend located a lifeguard and rushed back to the beach. When Davon was pulled to shore, he appeared to be no longer breathing. An American nurse and doctor who heard the cries of Davon's friends came over and attempted to resuscitate him. Once the lifeguard and paramedics arrived, Davon was transported to Amerimed Hospital in Cancun, where he was pronounced dead.
Within thirty minutes after learning of their tragic loss, a employee at the resort Franklin and his friends were staying, Jesus, called the Franklins to request their credit card information so that he could begin sending them the ambulatory and medical bills. Inez questioned why someone employed by the hotel would be responsible for handling the medical billing from the hospital.
"He explained to me that the hospital and the hotel sometimes work together," said Inez. "But then after I refused to give him our credit card information, I got a second call from a man claiming he worked at the hospital where Davon was taken."
While the man claiming to work at Amerimed insisted on obtaining their credit card information, Inez noticed something strange in his voice. The second individual sounded exactly like the man she talked to minutes before, who claimed he worked at the hotel.
"It was then that we believed these people were trying to take advantage of us," said Inez. "Not once did we feel like any of these people calling us showed compassion, nor did they even apologize for our loss. They were only concerned about money, but we hadn't even been presented with a statement listing the charges. My husband and I refused to pay, and they never called back so we knew something was not right."
In the days that followed, the Franklins began learning more of the horrific details surrounding their son's death. Davon's friends stated that the Mexican authorities refused to transport him to the hospital until the students came up with $600 to cover the ambulatory ride.
"His friends pleaded with the officials to just send him to the hospital and reassured them that they would get the money," said Inez. "One of the girls told me that the officials showed no immediacy, and that she and the rest of Davon's friends had no choice but to run back to the resort and round up the money before the paramedics agreed to take him to the hospital."
Examining the medical receipts from the hospital, she noticed charges that claimed Davon was put on life support in addition to being relocated to a special treatment unit of the hospital. Another one of Davon's friends, who was by his side the entire time, said he received no such treatment and his body was never moved.
Inez then had a United States attorney probe the bills and interrogate the medical authorities at the hospital in Cancun, and suddenly the charges were dropped. And once Davon's body was returned back to Baltimore, Inez discovered a long incision scar across the top of his head, which was never explained by doctors. In addition, once she received his death certificate, she saw that it, too, contained errors, listing Davon's death as a homicide. The Franklins were convinced Davon's death was treated with tremendous indecency and disrespect.
Two weeks later, Inez sat at her computer, still completely numb. She spent hours online doing research, determined to find out as much as she could about the accident in Cancun.
Her search lead her to a Web site called MexicoVacationAwareness.com. A woman named Maureen Webster created the site to bring awareness to the dangers of vacationing in Mexico. Her son, Nolan Webster, tragically died in Cancun in 2007.