By: CELINA ARZOLA
Tragedy happened on Monday, September 19, 2016, in Southeast Fresno when police said two-and a half-year old Elizabeth Thao and three-year old Jayce Thao died from drowning in their neighbor’s pool.
Fresno Police Lt. Joe Gomez believe that the children woke up between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m, left their room and opened a door that leads to the family’s garage, which had been left open, then proceeded to walk out around the house into their neighbors yard and squeezed through the gate surrounding the pool.
The kids’ parents had gone off to work and their great-grandmother along with a few other relatives were present in the house at the time; however, they were asleep and did not know the children had gotten out until she woke up after 10 a.m. and went to their room to check on them.
When their grandmother and relatives were not able to locate the children they then proceeded to call the police for help. When police arrived they immediately knocked on the door of their neighbor, Elizabeth Valle, and asked if they could check her yard.
“I said yeah go ahead, and I just [came] to my backyard to see what happened and I saw one little kid floating in my pool and I just jumped in and said, ‘The baby’s here! The baby’s here’” Valle explained to the police after the discovery of the children’s bodies.
Two-and a half-year old Elizabeth was found at the bottom of the pool and three-year old Jayce was floating on his stomach. They were pulled out and resuscitated on, but were pronounced dead at the scene. Police reported that the toddlers had been under the water for 15 to 20 minutes before they were found. The sight of both children out of the pool caused Valle to burst into tears, and she said she did not remember what happened next.
Valle said this was not the first time the kids had gotten into her backyard. Around five or six months ago, she found them unattended in her yard, while having a family gathering. She walked them back to their house, where their parents apologized, but did not seem too concerned, she recalled.
Gomez said the drownings appeared to be “a horrible accident,” but an investigator is looking into the case for possible negligence. He cautioned the parents that children this young require constant supervision. If that is not possible, parents should make sure to secure their rooms while not watching them.