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Police: Toddler who drowned in lake was out of sight for no more than five minutes

ST. PETERSBURG — A 2-year-old child drowned in a lake Thursday night behind a home in the Brighton Bay area of the city, authorities said.

Mark Andrew Van Cott, who would have been 2 next week, was visiting family at 883 Addison Drive NE, when the incident occurred at about 6 p.m. When police and paramedics arrived, they found the victim child lying near the shoreline of a small lake behind the home.

The boy's grandmother, Josefa Van Cott, 64, was attempting to perform CPR on him as paramedics took over, police said. The boy was transported to All Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators learned the child had been dropped off at the residence earlier in the day by the parents while they went to tend to a school issue for their other child. The home belonged to the grandmother and his step-grandfather, 51-year-old Victor Lopez. Lopez's nephew, 28-year-old Victor Hernandez, was also at the home at the time.

According to the family, they were preparing dinner and the toddler was playing inside the house when they suddenly noticed they did not see him and began to search the home.

Lopez eventually went out to the backyard to search when he saw the child lying face down in the lake, about a foot from the shore line. He extracted the child, police said, and yelled for the others to call 911. They all began resuscitation efforts until paramedics arrived.

Homicide investigators responded to the scene and believe the child got out of the house through an open sliding glass door out to a screened-in back porch. The boy managed to push open a screen door, which appeared to have a faulty latch and was not secured, police said.

From that point, the boy made his way to the lake, about 60 feet from the house.

The family estimated that child was out of sight for no more the five minutes before they discovered him in the lake.

Police called the incident a tragic accident and do not anticipate filing criminal charges.

Police: Toddler who drowned in lake was out of sight for no more than five minutes 10/20/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 9:26am]
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