The faces of Javier and Alan Yepez brightened up as they were the first to take a dip in their town's new swimming pool. But this was no ordinary pool or it was a typical day. The pool by the name of Regional Water Safety Training Center, Empire was created in honor of the boys' older brothers.
The Yepez brothers Eloy, 12, José, 10, and Daniel, 8, drowned in the Tuolumne River on a hot summer day in 2003 after the youngest boy fell in, and Eloy and José jumped in after him. The river's current was too strong for them and all three perished.
The group Friends of the Empire Community Pool sprung into action to raise money to build and maintain the pool. A total of $2.4 millions was raised and on June 12 officials, the Yepez family and the community gathered for the pool's grand opening.
"I feel very happy because my children's tragedy did not occur in vain," said the boys' father Javier Yepez.
"I am so thankful with this project which honors my children. This pool is a blessing for the Empire community," said his wife, Sylvia Yepez.