Two toddlers drown in pool

By HEATHER CIVIL Daily News Staff Writer
DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Police are releasing little information about the drowning deaths of two unrelated toddlers in a family swimming pool here Tuesday.

According to the DeFuniak Springs Police Department, an unidentified woman was home with the two 14-month-old children, one of whom was hers. The other toddler was reportedly under her care at the time. The woman and children fell asleep sometime Tuesday afternoon at the residence on U.S. Highway 331 North. While the adult slept, the toddlers woke up, opened a door and entered the pool area, the police report said.

It is unclear how the toddlers ended up in the pool.

The news stunned even those who have seen many tragedies.

Ronnie Bell, director of the Walton County Emergency Operations Center and former paramedic, said he has seen drownings in his lengthy career but never two toddlers at the same time. He’s never even heard of another double drowning in Walton.

"It really affects us all," Bell said.

Assistant State Medical Examiner Michael Berkland confirmed Wednesday that the toddlers "did indeed represent a drowning."

Berkland called the deaths a "double tragedy."

He said he doesn’t often see two deaths that happened at the same time except in car accidents.

"It is an unfortunate situation," he said.

Paramedics tried to revive the toddlers, who were taken to Healthmark Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead.

The police and the Department of Children and Families is investigating.

Staff writer Heather Civil can be reached at 267-8300, Ext. 204, or heatherc@nwfdailynews.com

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