JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says a "tragic accident" led to the body of a 4-year-old girl being pulled from a Westside pond Monday afternoon.
In a news briefing, JSO Assistant Chief Shawn Coursey said officers were called to Shadwell Court at 11:30 a.m. in reference to a missing 4-year-old. When officers arrived, the victim's mother said they were in the back yard of their house, the child playing and the mother doing some gardening. When the mother looked up to check on the victim, she discovered she was missing, Coursey said.
The mother immediately began searching for the girl, and when she couldn't find her, she called JSO for help. Officers responded and began searching immediately, Coursey said.
Patrol officers requested assistance from JSO's K-9 Unit, the Missing Persons Unit and the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department, JSO said. K-9 and some JFRD crew members found a child's toy in a neighbor's back yard, which backs up to a pond in the neighborhood, Coursey said.
A short time after they found the toy, the child's body was found in the pond, Coursey said.
Investigators collected surveillance video from the neighborhood that allowed them to put together a timeline of the events from neighboring houses, Coursey said.
"At 11:05, the victim is seen coming from her home, running across the street and through the victim's yard into the back yard," Coursey said. "At approximately 11:10, the mother is seen searching for the child out front. At 11:30, the police are called, and they arrived at 11:38 and immediately began searching. And then, at approximately 1:30 is when the victim was located in the pond and recovered."
The pond, described as a large retention pond, does not appear to be fenced in, Coursey said. No foul play is suspected in the girl's death.
"Right now, we think it's just a tragic accident," Coursey said. "Being a parent myself, you just always have to keep an eye on your kids. They can disappear at the snap of a finger ... We feel for the parents."
Mayor Lenny Curry released a statement on Twitter, urging property owners to allow for natural growth near retention ponds to provide a barrier between children and ponds.