‘Cati’s bill’ aims to protect Texas children who cannot swim

In June 2019, John and Kori DelaPena started their typical summer day by dropping their six-year-old daughter Catiana off at High Hopes Summer Camp in Cedar Park.

"Later that day about 3:00 the camp called us both and said there had been an accident at the pool," said John.

The parents said they told the camp administrators well in advance that Cati could not swim. "They said we will take care of it. We have life jackets," said John.

Cati later died at Dell Children's Medical Center. "CPS completed their report and investigation. They found the camp negligent. We asked the camp to change their policies, and to this day they have refused," said Kori DelaPena.


John and Kori turned their incomprehensible pain into purpose, and are now at the Capitol pushing for Cati's Bill. "When we looked at the code for childcare facilities, there is no language of life jackets to be placed on kids," said Kori.

State Rep. Vicki Goodwin (D-Austin) filed House Bill 1676, and state Sen. Judith Zaffrini (D-Laredo) filed its companion SB 1297 in the Senate. HB 1676 would require childcare providers to identify kids who can't swim and make sure they are fitted for a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket before going near any water. if the body of water isn't owned by the camp or organization, they must provide the owner with a list of kids identified as non-swimmers.

"We are talking about U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. We are not talking about other types of flotation devices like water wings, noodles," said Alissa Magrum, executive director of Colin’s Hope.

The organization Colin's Hope is partnering with the couple on this bill. "We’ve really have been working alongside Kori and John to try and get some legislation that would really do what they are trying to do, but take all the stakeholders into account," said Magrum.


John and Kori said the bill is simple, but if they can at least save one life out of this, they feel they have made a difference. "We're really praying that the chairs of these committees allow us to have a hearing and that's where we can go in and share our testimony and data," said Kori.

The DelaPena's said they are in the process of suing the camp.

FOX 7 reached out to High Hopes for this story and they said they are not answering questions due to pending litigation.