LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - After a heartbreaking tragedy, a 2-year-old girl is being remembered with a tree planting and a dedication.
Rosa Ayala gripped a picture of her 2-year-old daughter at the place where a tragic accident took the toddler's life, but on Thursday, Keily Ayala's family wasn't alone in their grief. They had the community backing them, surrounding them with love and support.
"We will go anywhere in the Newton area to help the community come together, to honor those who need us and honor those who are no longer with us," said Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Gisselle Espinoza.
Back in October, Keily was in South Park with her family when she started choking on a piece of food. Keily's aunt then flagged down to LAPD officers on patrol nearby. They did everything they could to help the toddler.
"It was tough...it was tough," said LAPD Officer Gabriel Flores who was there that day.
Officer Flores said Keily was unconscious and not breathing when he started performing CPR. His partner, Officer Albert Funes called 911 and helped get the toddler to the hospital. When the officers arrived at the hospital, they learned that Keily did not survive.
"I'll tell you as a father, I've got two kids Keily's age...excuse me. You know, just getting the...just getting the news, it really hit me," Funes said.
Officers from he Community Safety Partnership Bureau turned the tragedy into an opportunity to support the Ayalas. The officers, along with local nonprofit groups, a pastor and a football player, all joined in to help pay for Keily's funeral and the family's expenses.
Los Angeles Charger linebacker Kenneth Murray explained why he was so touched by Keily's story.
"My baby brother died on April 30, 2020, on his birthday, from a choking event, and it ripped me apart. And so, immediately when their situation came across my phone, I immediately knew I had to help," Murray said.
The Chargers also invited the Ayalas to their first football game, while LAPD officers took them shopping for basic needs. Mario Ayala expressed his gratitude via a translator.
"It's a difficult time, especially for families like his that are low income. He thanks you from the bottom of his heart," the translator said.
To ensure that Keily is never forgotten, the community planted a tree in her honor. Her family will no have a place to watch the tree flourish as Keily would have over the years.
"Anything you need, I'm here for you, and I mean that with everything in me. I mean that," Murray said.
"We work together like this all the time, not just in tragedy, to make this community better," said LAPD Capt. Alex Baez.
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