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Toddler dies in drowning incident

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Henry County Police were investigating the apparent drowning of a two-year-old child on Wednesday, after the boy was reportedly found in a neighbor's swimming pool.

The case originated with a call to authorities at approximately 12:15 p.m., from a resident on Peeksville Road in Locust Grove, according to Police Capt. Jason Bolton.

"Officers arriving discovered the mother did not know where the boy was," he said. "Officers checked door-to-door, and went into the woods."

During the search, continued Bolton, a police sergeant checked several houses down from the boy's residence. The sergeant located the child in a swimming pool in the yard of a house on the street.

"Officers pulled him from the pool, and began [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] in an attempt to save him," added Bolton. "Paramedics and [emergency medical technicians] rushed him to Henry Medical Center. Despite everyone's best efforts, he didn't make it, and was pronounced dead at the hospital."

Police have not determined how the child got to the house where he was found, or why he went there, Bolton said. "It's my understanding that the child had never been to that house before," he said. "There was a female at the residence with the pool, but she did not know the boy was in the pool."

Police did not release the boy's name Wednesday, and are continuing to investigate the case. They had not made any arrests in connection with the toddler's death on Wednesday and had not yet decided whether any charges would be filed, Bolton indicated.

"Detectives have many questions that need answering," he said. "They are interviewing the boy's parents, family members, neighbors and other potential witnesses. Hopefully, we'll have some answers in the coming days."

Bolton said parents and pool owners should take precautions to avoid similar incidents.

"It's extremely important for parents to know where their young children are at all times, especially toddlers," he said. "Sometimes, it doesn't take but a second for them to wander off. And, if you own a pool, you need to have a fence around it."

Henry County Emergency Management Director Don Ash called the case "tragic." He said the incident should serve as a reminder to parents to be mindful of swimming-pool safety procedures. "Parents should make sure that small children are not left unattended near a pool or, beyond that, any area that may present a hazard," he said.

Henry County Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett said she is unaware of the specifics of the drowning case, but expressed condolences for the victim's family. "On behalf of Henry County Fire Department, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during their time of grief," Puckett said.

The fire department provided information Wednesday from the Safe Kids web site, regarding pool safety: "Actively supervise your children around water at all times, and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency," the site advises. "Make sure your pool has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. In addition, hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use."