BRADENTON, Fla. - A Bradenton family is mourning the loss of a 5-year-old autistic girl who drowned Monday afternoon in the retention pond behind their home.
According to police, the Kesia Kearce slipped out through the home's sliding glass door. Her family never even noticed she was gone.
"First I saw her, then I saw her in the water, then she was gone," said neighbor, Les Shedek.
Shedek jumped in to save her.
"I thought maybe I had her at one point but it was just a big log or something, a branch," he cried.
Brian Byrket, who'd come to the Braden River Lakes subdivision to mow lawns, also dove in.
"It was hard because you want to find her but you don't want to find her at the same time," he explained. "We were hoping for a better outcome but that's what we got."
Norman Kearce admits his daughter loved water. They'd tried many times to teach her its dangers but to no avail.
"They like the feeling of water. In fact, a lot of children with autism may feel more calm in the water. They seem more focused in the water," explained pediatrician Dr. David Berger. "A child with autism may very well run away from the family."
Dr. Berger calls water a constant attraction and threat for all children, even if they don't suffer from autism. He recommends at least two barriers between a child and water, as well as a door alarm system, as well as the Pool Angel Anti-Drowning Alarm.
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