The party was going to make for special memories in the life of Charles "Frankie" Sasnett, friends said. It would be his first chance to go to a big Halloween bash, and to meet many of his family's friends and neighbors.
But the 13-month-old didn't live long enough to enjoy the haunted house or papier-mache spiders that had been set up for him, or to see the smiles of future friends.
While his father was busy setting up the decorations Saturday in the back yard of a friend's house on Drawdy Road in Plant City, Frankie climbed into a shallow wading pool. He drowned in about 2 feet of brown water sometime before 3:30 p.m., Hillsborough County sheriff's reports said.
"Tonight was going to be the first time for me and some other people to see him," said next-door neighbor Angela Tanner, whose family had already gone over to the party when the baby was found. Tanner was inside cooking when she heard screams coming from the back yard.
Sheriff's deputy Kelly Bradish and paramedics from Hillsborough Fire Rescue tried unsuccessfully to revive the child with CPR. The child was flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital and pronounced dead at 4:22 p.m.
The toddler's father, Raymond Sasnett, 38, took Frankie out of a playpen in the back yard so the boy could play with other children sometime around 3 p.m., reports said. While Sasnett and the hosts of the party, Rhonda Edmondson, 36, and Jackie Kirkland, 41, were busy with preparations, the child wandered toward the small pool, which had not been used in some time and was about half-filled.
"No one was watching where the child was going," said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Greg Brown.
"He ended up in the area of the pool and apparently was able to climb in."
Frankie's mother, Angela Cunningham, 22, who had been at the grocery store when Raymond Sasnett had let the baby out to play, returned to the party around 3:20 p.m. and immediately noticed her son was not in his playpen, reports said. Everyone at the home began searching for Frankie, who was found floating face down.
Frankie's family, who live on South Calhoun Road in Plant City, just across a citrus grove from where he drowned, could not be reached for comment Saturday.