A lawsuit was recently filed by a Baker County property owner after a toddler drowned in a retention pond.
A Baker County property owner is at the center of a new wrongful death lawsuit involving the drowning death of a 2-year-old boy, Franklin Parker. According to the suit, the child was found in a retention pond back in April, and now his parents are suing for what they believe was their son’s preventable death because the owner of the property where the incident occurred had failed to “install fencing that might have protected the child.”
The tragic incident occurred back on April 23 when the boy “wandered away from the apartment where he was being watched by his 18-year-old sister while their parents were at work.” Parker was found by a neighbor in the retention pond. The same neighbor tried to revive him, “but he died at Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital in Macclenny.”
According to the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, the firm representing the family, the retention pond the child drowned in is on the property of Macclenny Cycle & Marine, owned by Stephen Clarence Williams Jr. According to the suit, the property owner “did not have proper fencing as required by building permits.”
When commenting on the incident, defense attorney Glen Levine said, “this tragedy was preventable. Our clients are devastated, and we are working hard to ensure that those at fault take responsibility.”
Why wasn’t a fence ever constructed around the pond, though? Well, according to court documents, Williams applied for a “permit for construction of the retention pond to be used for stormwater treatment” on January 13, 2016. The construction of the retention pond was apparently part of the plans for a “nearly four-acre storage facility.”
Included in the building plans for the pond was also plans for the “construction of a 6-foot fence with a self-latching gate.” A permit for the construction plans was eventually issued to the property owner on January 27, 2016. From there, Williams went ahead with building the retention pond, though he failed to install the fence he included in the detailed construction plans when he applied for the permit.
As a result, the boy’s family alleges Williams’ failure to construct a fence contribute to the child’s death because Williams “knew or should have known the risk that the unfenced pond posed to the public’s health and safety.” Additionally, they also argue the pond was constructed “with an unreasonably dangerous slope” and “signage warning of the pond’s depth” wasn’t posted anywhere near the pond.
Amy Tisdale, one of the residents who lives near the retention pond, said the neighborhood is full of children. She added:
“Whenever you dug that ditch and put water in and I’m over here like you should have put a fence up or some type of security to keep kids from over there. Very too late and it’s a tragedy and I feel sorry for his mom and his family.”