Caregiver thought 4-year-old girl who drowned was playing in her room
Neighbor, who is nurse, says she gave Abigail CPR
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 4-year-old girl who drowned in a retention pond in the Dunns Crossing subdivision on Tuesday evening was supposed to be playing in her room, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report.
The adult who was supposed to be watching the child, who family identified as Abigail, said when she went to check on the girl, she was gone. As the family started searching the neighborhood and they spotted the girl in the middle of the pond near the intersection of Johnson Creek Circle and Robert Masters Boulevard.
Someone dove in and pulled her to the shore and a neighbor began giving the girl CPR until she could be rushed to UF Health Jacksonville, but she could not be revived.
"You're doing everything you can to try to revive her and there's no life," said Jannette Akins-Jones, who told News4Jax she performed CPR. "It's hurting. It's hurting to the heart."
The pond where Abigail drowned is across from a neighborhood playground. Dozens of family, friends and community members stopped by Abigail's grandparents' house on Wednesday to pay their respects.
Obaku Nyomah, the young girl's grandfather, said the family is heartbroken over the tragedy. He said his favorite part of the day was coming home from work to his 4-year-old grandaughter greeting him with open arms.
"She's love. She's always hugging. If I come home from work, she says, 'Hug me, grandaddy,' and play, play. She's a wonderful person," Nyomah said.
Abigail is from New York and was visiting Jacksonville. On Tuesday, she disappeared, and her loved ones started looking for her.
"They called, 'Abi, Abi,' but she wasn't answering. They looked all over the house, can't find her, and then they jumped out and started asking negihbors. Nobody had seen her," Nyomah said.
The retention pond where Abigail was found was not far from Nyomah's home.
Nyomah said his granddaughter's life was taken too soon, but he will never forget how much he loved her hugs.
"We were happy, just, in a short period of time, and she's gone. It's hurtful. It's hurtful," Nyomah said.
Nyomah hopes barricades will be put around the pond to prevent future tragedies.
A GoFundMe account was created to raise funds for the child's funeral expenses.
There have been six drownings in retention ponds in Northeast Florida in the last three years. The most recent was a 2-year-old in Macclenny in April. That pond has since been surrounded by a fence.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said, in most drownings of young children, the caretaker doesn't notice the child has slipped out of the house.
"(It) only takes a few minutes, sometimes less than two minutes for a child to drown in a retention pond simply because they don’t have the ability to go out and scream because there are ingesting water," Jefferson said. "It only takes a few minutes -- sometimes less than two minutes -- for a child to drown in a retention pond simply because they don’t have the ability to scream because they are ingesting water. You will not notice it until after the fact and, usually, that’s too late."
Jefferson said if there is a retention pond near you, take provisions to make sure they can't get out of the house.
"Always watch your children put on special locks and an alarm or some sort to alert you that someone is going or coming out. As a parent, you must do everything within your power if you live near a retention pond to protect your children."
Jefferson also encourages parents to give child swimming lessons.
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