2-year-old drowns in Putnam County pond: Sheriff’s Office

‘This is a horrible tragedy,’ Sheriff DeLoach says

According to deputies, they performed CPR until rescue units arrived, and the child was then taken to a hospital but was unable to resuscitated.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A toddler drowned Tuesday in a pond in Hollister, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said they responded Tuesday evening to a call about a possible drowning, and when they arrived at the scene, they found a 2-year-old girl unconscious next to a pond near State Road 20 and Willis Road.

According to deputies, they performed CPR until rescue units arrived, and the child was then taken to a hospital but was unable to resuscitated.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the girl’s mother told deputies that she was inside a home on Teddy Lane -- where she had been staying for about two days -- while the girl was outside playing with a 4-year-old. According to deputies, the mother said the children were playing for “about 10 minutes” when the adults realized they were missing. She told deputies that she ran down to the area of the pond and saw her child face down in the water and unresponsive, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies said they continue to investigate the drowning death.

“This is a horrible tragedy and our hearts grieve with the family at a life gone too soon,” Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach said. “With summer in full swing, we as family, friends and neighbors must be vigilant in watching our kids around water. We live in an area with lots of opportunities for drowning because of the lakes, ponds, pools and of course the St. Johns River and the water is unforgiving.”

Jordan Cowen lives nearby. She has several young children.

“I think you don’t really think it’s possible for this to happen to your child, you know, and when you hear about something happening so close to you it makes it more surreal,” Cowen said.

From 2017 to 2019 combined, Florida was ranked the highest in the U.S. for unintentional drowning death rate among children ages 1 to 4, according to the state Department of Health.

Jessica Winberry is a prevention coordinator with Wolfson Children’s Hospital. She says tragedies like these can happen quickly.

“Because we have so much access to water, you should be extra diligent, and sometimes that includes having layers of protection to help slow a child down, from getting out of the house and having access to these types of water,” Winberry said.

Winberry recommends having a designated “water watcher” to supervise children anytime they are near water, installing safety devices like alarms on doors that can lead to water, or having a fence around your pool. She said to keep in mind that no single barrier is 100% effective.

Winberry added that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons by the age of 4.


About the Authors:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.