17 Month Old Tragically Drowns In His Own Backyard
A young child drowned in the pond behind his house, while his mother frantically searched for him just yards away. Last night in Putnam County there were K-9 units, a helicopter from Alachua County, over 60 Deputies and even a dive team sent out in search of the missing 17 month old.
Clayton Neil Smith was playing in the yard with his mother nearby last night around 6 PM. Major Gary Bowling of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said she was on the phone, when suddenly she realized she had lost sight of her son. He said, "She searched the yard and around the house for another few minutes and realized she couldn't find the child and called us right away."
A search team quickly spread out around the property located on Cousintown Road, South of Interlachen, into the woods around the house.
Bowling said they knew that Clayton couldn't have gone far. He said, "We realized pretty quickly that the 17 month old child probably could not negotiate a 3 or 4 foot fence in the yard...we saw the pond in the backyard and realized there was a great potential that the pond was a target for an investigation as far as drowning."
The dive team went into the pond around 8:20 and an hour later, they recovered the child's body in the shallow waters of the pond. Bowling said, "You know it's ugly. Mom and Dad just got the information on a dirt road that their child was drown in a pond. So they did what any one of us would do, they freaked out."
Tragedies like this one are all too common. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under 15 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Pamela Pallas at UF's Baby Gator Child Development and Research Center said it's so easy to lose sight of a young child. She said, "Children, especially toddlers, they move very quickly. they are extremely curious, they don't understand the concept of danger."
Pallas said that's why it's so critical to be vigilant and alert at all times. And although there are safety precautions to take, some things are outside of a parent's control.
She said, "You can fence things, but then again children learn to climb over to climb under, get into things...I don't think it's possible to prepare for every eventuality. But, I don't think it's possible for parents to prepare for every possible way their child may get hurt."
The death of Clayton Smith is still under investigation by the Putnam County Sheriff's office.
For more child safety tips go to www.safekids.org
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