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ROCHESTER – An 18-month-old toddler has died in a drowning incident at the Lakeview Bend area in Rochester.

Fulton County Coroner Jeri Good said that an autopsy on Tuesday revealed the cause of death was an apparent accident due to asphyxiation by drowning. Additional reports of microbiology and toxicology will not be available for approximately another four to six weeks.

But she does not anticipate those results changing anything in her initial analysis.

Following the coroner’s findings, Fulton County Sheriff Chris Sailors said he believes there was no foul play involved.

He said that an investigation found the boy had exited a door of his home and escaped to the nearby residential pond. A neighbor saw the toddler and went in after him, where the water was waist-deep. Sailors said the boy had not yet made it to the middle of the pond.

It is unknown how long the toddler had been in the water.

But at approximately 4:25 p.m. Monday, emergency responders were called to Lakeview Bend, where the boy was found not breathing, Sailors stated in a news release.

The neighbor continued to assist. However, when emergency responders arrived, the boy was still unresponsive. Life-saving measures were continued, according to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.

The boy was taken to Woodlawn Hospital by Lutheran Medics, where he was pronounced deceased.

The incident remains under investigation by the Fulton County Coroner’s Office, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, and the Indiana Department of Child Services – Fulton County Office.

Responding agencies included Rochester Fire Department, Lutheran EMS, and the sheriff’s department.

In the U.S., water is linked to 10 deaths every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that of those deaths, two are of children 14 and younger.

In 2020, there were 61 drownings, which had increased from 2019 at 47 drowning deaths, reported Cpt. Jet Quillen of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement at an Indiana Trails Advisory Board meeting.

Prior to the July 4, 2021, holiday, there were 32 drownings in the Great Lakes, according to data collected by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, a nonprofit group that tracks drownings of the Great Lakes. Of the 32, 15 happened in Lake Michigan.

This was compared to 25 drownings as of July 4, 2020.

These figures do not include private pool drownings.

Reach Kristi Hileman at kristi.hileman@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150

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