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Mom charged with neglect after son nearly drowns

Neighbor saves 1-year-old from retention pond; boy's sister also escaped

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Johns County mother is facing child neglect charges after her 1-year-old son nearly drowned in an apartment complex retention pond in March.

A neighbor jumped into action to save the little boy, who was standing at the edge of the water when she noticed he was getting ready to go in the pond. His 2-year-old sister was also near the water.

The neighbor, Linda Scott, said if she didn't act immediately and run to rescue the child, he could have died. She's convinced it was divine intervention that interrupted her daily Bible study inside her apartment.

While she was reading on March 30, she looked out the window and noticed the boy in the pond, she said.

"I looked over and saw him floating in the water, so I just looked down to see if the mother was there, and no one was there, so I just took off running," Scott said.

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Scott said she ran outside and yelled for someone to come help, because she was worried she wouldn't reach the boy in time, but no one else was around. The toddler was floating face down in the middle of the pond when she made the decision to swim in after him.

"I jumped in the water and grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him up, and he coughed and sputtered a little bit," Scott said. "I grabbed him, and we headed for the shore, and we get to the shore and (he was) coughing a little more."

St. Johns County sheriff's deputies charged the boy's mother, 43-year-old Geraldine Holman, with child neglect, because they said she had no idea her toddlers had left her apartment.

Deputies said Holman was in the bathroom with the door closed when they arrived and her children had been left unsupervised for 30 minutes.

The Department of Children and Families is also investigating Holman.

"Based on the mother's reaction, there seemed to be a lack of concern and caring," Sheriff's Office spokesman Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan said. "There was no rush to get to see the child after being told the child almost drowned. So the deputy found something there that he found to be neglectful."

Scott said it was more than just being in the right place at the right time. She said she knows she was placed there on purpose.

"God did it. God made me look up at the time," Scott said. "Usually I'm eating supper in the evenings at 5:30, but that boy was meant to live and do great things in his lifetime, and that's why I was there. Sometimes things always work out this way."

Scott said she hopes this incident serves as a wake-up call to Holman -- and other parents -- to never take their eyes off their children, especially near water. 


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