Duval County

Child pulled from pond on Jacksonville’s Westside, is in ‘very critical condition,’ JSO says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A two-year-old child is in critical condition Thursday after nearly drowning in a retention pond located within the Madelyn Oaks apartment complex on the Westside.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is currently coordinating with the Florida Department of Children and Families in this investigation.

As of now, no charges have been filed.

According to JSO, it seems the two-year-old and a three-year-old wandered out of one of the apartment buildings and ended up in the retention pond at the center of the complex.

That’s when a neighbor noticed and called 911.

JSO arrived on the scene and an officer with the help of an employee at the apartment complex pulled the two-year-old out of the pond.

“They began performing first aid on the child,” said Sergeant Robby Hinson with JSO.

The officers rendered medical aid until the two-year-old was transported to a local hospital.

The two-year-old is in very critical condition according to JSO, while the three-year-old was unharmed.

JSO said the children were under the supervision of a teenage family member.

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“Early indications are that the children may have wandered off from one of these apartments,” said Hinson.

Delani Whitehurst is the two-year-old’s cousin.

She and the rest of the family were in shock after hearing the news, wondering how this could have happened.

“Our grandmother is devastated, my auntie Ron is devastated, my mother is in shock. Everyone’s worried,” said Whitehurst.

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Drowning is the second leading cause of death among children aged one to four in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year in Jacksonville, three young children drowned in retention ponds between the months of April and June, spurring the mayor to order his administration to allow natural growth around retention ponds on city property to create natural barriers to prevent further tragedies.

He also encouraged private property owners to do the same.

Some of the retention ponds in the apartment complex are fenced off, but JSO said that’s not the case with the large pond where the child was found.

“Clear grass straight into the water,” said Hinson.

Staff at the apartment complex didn’t respond to our request for a statement, but Whitehurst said fence or no fence, someone should have been watching the children more closely.

“Should they be fenced in? Yes. Do we always have the luxury to pay for that? No. And is that the child’s fault? No, because it’s up to the parent to keep the child safe,” said Whitehurst.

JSO is reminding Jacksonville residents to keep a close eye on their children if they live near a retention pond, to help prevent tragedies like this one from occurring.

“Keep cognizant of retention ponds if you have small children. Put a lock up high on the door or get some of those plastic locks to prevent kids from opening the door handle. Just be cognizant,” said Hinson.


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