JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police reported that the body of a 4-year-old child who went missing Monday was found in a retention pond in the Argyle Forest area on Jacksonville’s Westside.
The girl was reported missing from a home on Shadwell Court on Monday morning, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. She was ultimately discovered in a pond behind a nearby house.
Following the tragedy, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry directed his administration to allow natural growth around retention ponds to provide natural barriers, urging private property owners to do the same.
According to JSO, the girl’s mother was gardening in their backyard about 11 a.m. when she lost track of her child who was playing in the yard.
When the mother realized her child had run away, she dialed 911, and authorities were dispatched to assist in the search.
According to neighbors, the mother then asked around the area if anyone had seen her child.
Sunni Kirby, who lives nearby, observed the mother searching for the 4-year-old at 11:15 a.m.
Kirby said, “She claimed my daughter got out.” “I asked what she was wearing, and she said a swimsuit,” she claimed.
Kirby believes that a privacy fence must be at least six feet tall so that youngsters cannot see it and are not drawn to it.
Megan Phillips, who lives near the retention pond where believes the 4-year-old was discovered, said the town is close-knit and that everyone pitched in to assist in the search.
“My grandmother immediately said go check the pond because kids love water, and I checked all three houses right here and there was no sign of her,” Phillips explained.
Crews discovered a toy in a neighbor’s backyard that backs on to a private retention pond after two hours of searching. The child’s body was discovered in a pond along Argyle Forest Boulevard a short time afterwards.
According to Phillips, her next-door neighbor offered security footage that led first responders to the girl’s body.
Phillips wishes that barriers could be installed to avoid these drownings in retention ponds.
“There are so many people who have died. Little kids don’t comprehend, and as a nurse, all you want to do is help them in some way, so I’m not sure. Phillips stated, “It’s obviously bad for the neighborhood.”
According to the JSO, no foul play is suspected, and the incident was a “tragic accident.”
According to JSO, the following is a timeline based on video evidence:
11:05 a.m.: A child was spotted crossing the street into the backyard of a neighbor.
Mom is spotted hunting for the youngster around 11:10 a.m.
JSO arrives on location around 11:30 a.m. and begins searching.
1:30 p.m.: The body of a child is discovered.
The child’s death is the third in as many weeks that a child has died after slipping into a retention pond in Jacksonville.
Gavin Douyon, a 4-year-old boy with autism, was discovered dead in a pond on the Northside in June. A missing 5-year-old Jacksonville youngster with autism who was nonverbal escaped his home in April. Later, he was discovered dead in a retention pond.
It was unclear whether the young girl who died on Monday had autism as well.
Following the drowning deaths of two autistic children earlier this year, members of the Jacksonville City Council met with state regulators to discuss how to proceed with new safety measures for retention ponds throughout Duval County.
It’s a project that potentially affect hundreds of communities.
On Monday, Ju’Coby Pittman, one of the council members advocating for change, expressed his condolences to the young victim’s family.
Pittman stated, “Unfortunately, these retention ponds are vital to projects, but they have proven a hazard and are contributing to the drowning of innocent children.” “Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber and I are both very concerned about this unfortunate issue that has been affecting families in recent months. In order to design regulations and safety procedures for the retention pond, we are looking at various models, such as Tallahassee. A meeting involving Public Works, EPA, Developers, Planning, OGC, North Florida Real Estate Assoc, St. John’s Management, and others is being planned.”
The city is still trying to figure out how many of its retention ponds are open to the public, a project that began in early June. The majority of the city’s retention ponds are privately owned and managed.
Other youngsters have drowned in similar bodies of water in Northeast Florida in the last six years.
This is the 40th time a child has drowned in our neighborhood since 2016.