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Haitian earthquake survivor's death was an accident, Clearwater police say

CLEARWATER — The death of a 10-year-old Haitian earthquake survivor who recently fell off the roof of her Scientologist sponsor's home has been ruled an accident, a two-week investigation by Clearwater police detectives has found.

Anais Jean and her twin sister asked their sponsor, Michael Campbell, if they could join him on the roof of the two-story house, according to an 11-page report of the April 29 incident.

Campbell, who could not be reached Wednesday, told police that he gave the girls his consent. They "loved to climb" and were "very athletic" and "very physically strong," he said.

Atop the roof, they cleaned leaves from the gutters, Anabelle Jean told investigators. Their father, Reggie Jean, said he didn't know they were up there.

Campbell picked up the girls and two other siblings from school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and brought them back to his Chateauwood Drive home while Reggie Jean worked.

The children are on full, $10,000-a-year scholarships at Clearwater Academy, executive director Jim Zwers said. Anais was in fourth grade. The school opened in 1998 and uses study methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

When Reggie Jean got off work April 29, the girls were outside with Campbell, but not on the roof. "They weren't doing anything in particular," Clearwater police spokeswoman Beth Watts said Wednesday.

Reggie Jean went inside the house and had dinner. As he ate, he looked through a window and saw Anais on the roof.

"Hi, Poppy," she said.

"What are you doing up there?" he asked her.

It was 7:45 p.m. — 18 minutes before sunset — and he ordered her to "come down."

Campbell descended the ladder to retrieve a garden hose. He told the girls which areas of the roof were safe and which were not. He said he pointed directly to the screen and explained that it could not hold their weight.

The girls, who spoke no English when they arrived in Clearwater a week after the Jan. 12 quake, understood him, he told detectives.

About 7:50 p.m., Campbell heard a crash. From inside of the house, Reggie Jean heard a noise, too. Anais had fallen through the pool screen and hit her head on the patio below. The distance from the top of the pool screen to the concrete pool deck was more than 9 feet, the police report says.

Father and sponsor ran to check on Anais. Campbell's daughter called 911. They tried to move Anais to the patio hammock. She couldn't walk.

She yelled, cried, fell asleep and threw up "a lot of food" before she was transported by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and later All Children's Hospital. It was there that she died on May 3 from complications from blunt head trauma, said Bill Pellan, director of investigations for the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office.

A memorial was held for Anais the following Sunday in a ballroom of the Fort Harrison Hotel. More than 150 family and friends attended the service and listened to speakers eulogize "Anais the girl and the joy she brought to others around her," Zwers said.

Reggie Jean has not responded to numerous requests for interviews.

"To have survived the earthquake and come here and have the opportunity to essentially start a new life, it's a pity to see that flame of light extinguished so early," Zwers said. "She was a very beautiful and bright child. It is a true tragedy in every sense of the word."

Rodney Thrash can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4167.

Haitian earthquake survivor's death was an accident, Clearwater police say 05/26/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 7:31pm]
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