COLTON (CBSLA.com) — The parents of a 2-year-old boy fatally mauled by pit bulls want to set the record straight as to how it happened and who is to blame.
Only on CBS2, the parents opened up to reporter Joy Benedict on Friday evening.
It was the parents’ first interview since Samuel Eli Zamudio was killed by as many as five dogs owned by his grandmother on September 23.
Benedict watched as the parents — Samuel Zamudio and Vivian Ponce — poured over family album’s featuring their little boy.
“I’ve never really cried too much in my adult life but believe me in these last two weeks, I’ve learned to cry,” said the boy’s dad.
He remembers his son as always happy.
“There was something about him. He knew how to just make you laugh,” said Sam.
His mother said her son loved animals.
“He loved playing with animals in general. All animals,” she said.
The parents told Benedict they fear it was this love for animals that led their son’s curiosity to the backyard of his grandmother’s house that day.
“We don’t own any dogs, so he didn’t have any reason to be afraid of them,” said Sam.
The parents dropped all three of their children at the grandmother’s home and went to work that day.
The children were being watched by Zamudio’s 22-year-old brother, Marco.
The parents said Marco believed all the kids were off playing and didn’t realize the 2-year-old somehow ended up in the backyard.
Sam told Benedict he doesn’t blame his brother for the tragedy.
“I really don’t want to blame anybody for this,” he says, “I strongly believe it was an accident.”
The DA strongly disagrees and charged Marco with felony child abuse. Despite pleas from Samuel’s parents, he is still in jail.
“My mom went to visit him. She said he didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to speak. He feels guilty for what happened,” said Sam.
The couple says the tragedy has also been hard on their 7-year-old. Losing his brother and seeing his uncle in jail has been all too much.
The 7-year-old was in the house when his brother was killed and he blames himself.
“He’s saying it’s all my fault. I should have been watching him. He’s my brother and it’s wrong! Very wrong!,” says Vivian, “He’s a child. He’s not responsible for a toddler.”
The parents told Benedict they will never “move on” from the loss of their son. But they know they must also “live on” and they said they hope their son’s death is a reminder to all parents — not only to watch their children closely but to hold them even tighter.
“Even if you are tired when you come home from work, hug your kids. You never know what will happen tomorrow,” said Sam.
A fund to help the family with funeral expenses has been set up at Wells Fargo. (Go to any branch and make a donation to “The Samuel Zamudio Memorial Fund.)A car wash is also being held Saturday, October 5th at Taco Joe’s in Colton (1431 E Washington) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Zamudio’s funeral will be held Tuesday, October 8th at 1 p.m. at Oakdale Memorial Park (1401 S Grand Ave.) in Glendora. There is a visitation Monday from 5-8 p.m.