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Toddler drowns in Hazelwood Ave. yard pond

Published: Sat, March 3, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.




A nurse working at a house on South Hazelwood Avenue on the West Side noticed something floating in the water of a side-yard pond Friday afternoon, discovered that it was a girl about 18 months old and tried to resuscitate her, but the child died.

Youngstown police were not releasing the child’s name in the hours after it happened but said the girl had been in the care of a baby-sitter at the house next door. The pond is about 6 feet in diameter with stones around the edge and about 21⁄2 to 3 feet deep.

Police say they don’t know how the girl got into the water. There were no other children playing near the pond.

Neither of the parents of the girl, who lived at 305 S. Hazelwood Ave., were home at the time of the accident, police said. The baby-sitter was watching the girl and an 8-year-old boy.

The pond appeared to be on the property at the house where the nurse was working, 237 S. Hazelwood. She was caring for a child at that address, police said.

A wooden fence is in place between the house at 237 and the house at 305 South Hazelwood. The fence blocks the view of the pond from 305 S. Hazelwood, where the girl lived.

A neighbor living across the street from the pond said the family living at 237 S. Hazelwood has a large number of children, some of them young, who frequently play around the pond. Playground equipment for small children is located close to the pond.

The neighbor said she never really thought about the pond being dangerous.

A man police said was the girl’s father arrived at 305 S. Hazelwood around 5 p.m. and cried uncontrollably as he got to the front yard and front porch of the home.

A half-dozen Youngstown police officers stood by in the area of the porch while others comforted the man.

Dr. Joseph Ohr, deputy Mahoning County coroner, and a coroner’s investigator took photos of the scene, including the pond, which some described as a fish pond.

“It’s an absolute tragedy,” said Chris Yambar, Youngstown police chaplain, who had come to the scene to comfort family members. “This was a beautiful child. She’s absolutely with Jesus.”

Police said the girl was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident happened around 3 p.m.

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