Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Public safety

Autistic girl, 11, found in pond after wandering from party in Riverview

RIVERVIEW — A 11-year-old autistic girl was found dead at the bottom of a pond Saturday after she wandered away from a Riverview birthday party, authorities said.

Ariyanna Pivachek, a foster child, was attending the party at 11159 Golden Silence Drive with seven other foster children when she disappeared about 3 p.m., Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

Eight adults who were also at the party noticed she was gone and searched nearby areas themselves before calling 911 at 3:30 p.m., deputies said.

About 50 sheriff's deputies were dispatched to search for Pivachek, including canine units, a helicopter and the sheriff's dive team. Authorities also placed a reverse-911 call to area residents, hoping someone might know the child's whereabouts.

Deputies found her about 45 minutes later. She was 15 feet from the shore of a small pond directly behind the house she was visiting, in water about 6 feet deep, deputies said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We are really saddened at the outcome," said sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon.

Residents at the home, in the sprawling Fronterra section of the Summerfield subdivision, declined to speak with a reporter Saturday night. Several cars blocked the street in front of the two-story tan stucco home and numerous people could be seen inside, some visibly shaken.

An open garage door revealed numerous children's toys.

Neighbors say the residents who are renting the home care for special-needs children.

The Sheriff's Office said the family was considering adopting Ariyanna.

"When I saw the dive team putting their gear on, I said, 'I pray this is not where they find her,' " said Patricia Smith, 70, a neighbor.

Smith was sitting in her office Saturday afternoon when she saw several adults bolt out of the house where the party was being held, running to search for Ariyanna in every direction. Minutes later, deputies began to arrive and clogged the narrow subdivision block.

Just after 7 p.m., the news of Ariyanna's death began to trickle through the community.

"I asked a deputy had they found her," Smith said. "He just whispered, 'Yes.' "

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