By Tucker Cummings
Tragedy struck a family in Lakewood after a toddler fell into a septic tank and drowned.
Marina Matias contacted authorities around 5 pm on March 12 to report that her 2-year old child, identified to the press only as J.C., had gone missing. Just hours after placing the call, the child was found dead in the tank.
The home is located on East Spruce Street. The hole in the backyard was about 3 feet wide, large enough for a small child to fall into. The Public Works Department was called in to pump water from the hole, and the little girl’s body was found around 7:30 pm that night. It is believed that the little girl was playing with her siblings in the backyard before the tragic accident.
An autopsy ruled the death was accidental, with Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford going on the record that a preliminary investigation found “no indication of foul play or trauma.”
Ford added, “The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will continue its investigation into the circumstances of this death in order to rule out any criminal action that contributed to the death of this young child.”
The dead toddler had four siblings, and was being supervised by her stay-at-home mom. The father was likely at work during the accident, as one report revealed he worked two factory jobs to support his family. The family is originally from the Mexican state of Puebla.
The hole on the property was apparently unknown to residents of the home, the family members, or their neighbors. Law enforcement and Public Works were both on the scene when the hole was discovered, and when the girl’s body was found within.
“I didn’t really see the body. I just noticed they found something,” said Michael Stewart with the Lakewood Department of Public Works regarding the incident. “They found the body as they looked. Depressed that they found the body in the septic tank.”
Last summer, a 2-year old in Roselle, NJ was found dead in a pool after he wandered away from his parents at a block party. That same report revealed that the Children’s Safety Network National Injury and Violence Prevention Resource Center has found that accidental drowning is the second leading cause of death for New Jersey children ages 1-4. Sadly, children in that age bracket are more likely to drown than children of any other age.