Devastated mom speaks out after twins drown in sitter’s pool

by Joshua Rhett Miller
New York Post

A mother in Tennessee is heartbroken after her twins were found unresponsive in the deep end of a babysitter’s swimming pool, saying she’s “not sure how to live with this pain.”

Amelia Wieand, the mother of twins Elijah and Elyssa Orejuela, told the Knoxville News Sentinel that her son donated his organs on Tuesday to help other children after passing away on Sunday.

“After much heartbreak, Elijah has gone to be with his sister Elyssa,” Weiand told the newspaper. “They were formed together in my womb and came into this world together. Both kids were extremely strong. She was his other half. They were soul mates and never apart. Even in death they were together.”

Weiand said her son donated his organs to save the lives of strangers he’ll never know.

“I’ll never understand this, and I’m not sure how to live with this pain,” she continued. “But to prevent another family from suffering this immeasurable pain, today Elijah became a superhero.”

The twins — who were just one month away from turning 2 — were found early Friday in the deep end of a babysitter’s pool at a home operating as a day care center on Fox Lonas Road in West Knox County, sheriff officials said.

The children were rushed to a nearby hospital, where Elyssa was pronounced dead Friday. Elijah was put on life support and was pronounced dead on Sunday, a hospital spokesman told the newspaper.

“I know right now they are in heaven being mischievous and giggling,” Wieand said, adding that her son never would’ve been complete living without his twin sister.

In a separate Facebook post, Wieand, a registered nurse, thanked the public for supporting her during the early stages of her grieving process.

“I can’t thank you enough for the support that we have been given,” Wieand posted Tuesday. “Knowing that my babies are loved by so many and have touched others’ lives gives me some peace. Please continue to pray. I don’t know how to move forward … we are living moment by moment, but just know your support & love is the only thing right now getting us to [that] next moment.”

Records cited by the Knoxville News Sentinel indicate that the home where the twins drowned was operating as a day care center called Om Baby and was registered to a woman named Jen Salley, of Knoxville. Salley does not own the residence, property records show.

A spokesman for Tennessee’s Department of Human Services said Om Baby was not licensed as a day care facility and Salley did not have a child care license, meaning she was not allowed to supervise more than four unrelated children for periods longer than three hours.

But a profile for Om Baby on previously advertised day care space for up to six children, including three infants and three toddlers, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. The listing has since been removed.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an ongoing investigation and authorities have yet to indicate whether criminal charges will be filed.

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