Mother seeks law change after 2-year-old son drowns

Franklin Parker, 2, drowned April 23 after wandering away from his older sister

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

MACCLENNY, Fla. - It was an especially challenging Mother’s Day for Misty Williams, whose toddler son drowned last month in a Baker County retention pond.

Franklin Parker, 2, was being watched by his 19-year-old sister at an apartment April 23 while his parents were at work when he wandered away and was later found in the pond.

Despite efforts by a neighbor to resuscitate the little boy using CPR, he was pronounced dead the same day at Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital in Macclenny.

On Monday, Williams spoke with News4Jax about Franklin and what he meant to their family. An emotional Williams said what should have been a day to celebrate was instead a reminder of her loss.

“He was a very happy, active, joyful little boy,” Williams told News4Jax. “He brought joy to everyone he encountered.”

READ: Wrongful death lawsuit filed by parents of Franklin Parker

Williams’ family has since filed a lawsuit against Stephen Clarence Williams Jr., owner of Macclenny Cycle & Marine, the business that sits on the property where the retention pond is located.

The complaint claims there should have been a fence in place on the property. Attorney Glen Levine, who represents the family, said the fence was required by the permit obtained to build on the site.

“We are going to do everything we can to try and find out what that fence was not there when it was supposed to be there, and how we can address this,” Levine told News4Jax.

Court documents show that on Jan. 13, 2016, Williams applied to the St. Johns River Water Management District for the construction of a retention pond to be used for stormwater treatment.

Plans submitted to the district as part of the permitting process included the construction of a 6-foot fence with a self-latching gate. A construction permit was issued to Williams two weeks later.

According to the family’s attorneys, the retention pond was finished in March 2017. It’s unclear why the proposed fence wasn’t built after work wrapped up on the pond.

News4Jax contacted Williams, who did not wish to comment for this story. He said he pulled the proper permits for the business and was planning on adding a fence once the project was completed.

“I would like for it to be fenced up, so it does not happen to any other child,” said Williams, who added that if nothing else, she’d like to see a law named after her son. “Something in honor of my baby.”

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