Video of dad's heroic leap to save son is warning about pool safety

This Florida family wants to show "how accidents can happen in a split second."

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By Rachel Paula Abrahamson

Albert Passavanti expected backlash when he shared a video of his 18-month-old son, Rocco, falling into the family’s swimming pool. But the dad from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, will gladly read a few hateful comments if it means saving a child's life.

“We knew we were putting ourselves out there for judgement,” Albert’s wife, Dawn Passavanti, told TODAY Parents. “But we wanted to show how accidents can happen in a split second.”

Albert and Rocco Passavanti.Passavanti family

In the chilling footage, that was captured on the family’s Nest camera on Sunday, Rocco is seen wandering along the pool’s edge to reach an inflatable ball, when suddenly he falls in. Without hesitating, Albert dives headfirst over a 4-foot-high fence and rescues the little boy.

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"My husband was watching from a lounge chair and was able to react quickly," Dawn, 39, told TODAY Parents. "He scooped Rocco right out."

Albert put the clip on Facebook with the caption, “Baby gates only work when you close them.”

Rocco Passavanti and his sister, Scarlett. Passavanti family

Dawn and Albert know the story could have had a much different outcome. “Albert and his brother had their eyes on Rocco, and I was right there too,” she told TODAY Parents. “But if we had been distracted by our phones, or cooking on the grill, it could have been minutes before we realized what had happened.”

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there are about 300 drowning deaths of children younger than 5 each year in pools.

“If you have a pool gate, keep it closed at all times,” Dawn told TODAY Parents. “Even if an adult is there. Keep it closed.”