JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A child pulled from a pond at an apartment complex Thursday morning on Jacksonville’s Westside was in “very critical condition” at the hospital, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said first responders were called to the Madelyn Oaks Apartments off Lenox Avenue around 9:45 a.m. when an alert resident spotted two young children playing in the retention pond.
The resident headed over to the children, and an officer arrived to find a toddler in the water, JSO Sgt. Robby Hinson said. The officer jumped in, swam to the child and pulled the child, who was about 2 years old, out of the pond.
A resident, who didn’t want to be identified, said they witnessed the officer running to the pond and jumping in to try to save the child. She said a maintenance man also helped.
“They were able to do like teamwork. She was able to give the baby to the maintenance guy and now she’s trying to help herself get out of there because she got on her safety gear, her duty belt, stuff like that,” the neighbor said. “She did an amazing job like doing what she could do.”
The officer began CPR until paramedics arrived and the child was taken to the hospital. The toddler was last listed in “very critical condition.”
“The officer appears to be fine. She went home to dry her equipment off and get a fresh change of clothes,” Hinson said. “But talking to her supervisor, she seems to be fine.”
Hinson said the other child with the toddler was about 3 years old. That child was not harmed. The genders of the children were not released.
He said the two had been in the care of an older teenage relative, and investigators with JSO and the Department of Children and Families are working to learn how the children were able to get to the pond while the teen was in the apartment.
They are interviewing the parents of the children.
Sky4 aerials showed crime scene tape surrounding the rear of a building at the apartment complex that backs up to the large pond, which is not fenced.
“Be cognizant of retention ponds,” Hinson warned. “If you have small children, put a lock up high on the door or get one of those plastic locks to prevent kids from opening a door handle.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports child drownings remained high last year, with near-drowning injuries spiking 17%.
The commission says the vast majority of children who drown are under the age of 5. It says caregivers should never leave a child unattended in or near water, learn to swim yourself, learn how to do CPR, and teach your kids to swim and how get to air if they fall in the water.