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Jacksonville City Council members ramp up retention pond safety campaign after 4th death in a year

A 4-year-old boy with autism drowned in a retention pond in north Jacksonville Monday evening. He is the second child to die this way in about a month.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Education efforts in communities and schools and even legislation are in the works to try to stop tragedies like what happened in North Jacksonville Monday evening.

A 4-year-old boy with autism went missing and was found dead in a pond Monday. Gavin Douyon is the second child to die this way in about a month. 

Mohamad Nour, 5, died the same way at the end of April. Both boys had autism and were nonverbal.

"The ponds, they look so inviting, but they're very dangerous," Jacksonville City Councilmember Ju’Coby Pittman said. 

"We want to make sure that we not only educate but we also implement and find the funding to make sure that we can continue,"  she said. "The other thing is to look at what other cities are doing."

Pittman and fellow Jacksonville City Councilmember LeAnna Cumber have been working on expanding their retention pond safety campaign for about a year now. 

After Nour's death, they held an emergency meeting with the city's public works director about the issue.

Since then, Pittman and Cumber met with the Duval County Public School Board to discuss educating children and families about retention pond safety. According to Pittman, DCPS Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene has committed to making it a priority to make retention pond safety part of the education for students for the next school year.  

Pittman said they're also in talks with local infrastructure developers to figure out how to make ponds safer with things like signage. They've also talked to the developers about adding possible barriers around retention ponds. 

"We're in the process of developing that, how it would look, how we're going to design it, so when you see a certain sign in the community by a retention pond that is the standard sign and everyone knows what that means," Pittman said. "It’s kind of like the say no to drugs campaign." 

Pittman says they're even looking at legislation to require developers to provide retention pond information to residents on private property.

"What could you all do to help to, one, educate maybe the HMO's and the apartment complexes, especially when they know that they have children?" Pittman said.

As for city-managed retention ponds, there are more than 200 in Jacksonville, according to the city's website.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also shared his well wishes for Gavin's family on Twitter, sharing the following:

"My heart goes out to the Douyon family on the tragic loss of their beloved son, Gavin. As our community mourns, I commend the work underway by City Council members to increase awareness of the potential hazards of retention ponds to help prevent future tragedies."

RELATED: JSO: Missing 4-year-old boy with autism found dead in retention pond

RELATED: City leaders hold emergency meeting after 5-year-old drowns in Jacksonville pond