On Friday, August 12, 2011, 1-year-old Miguel Vigo and his grandmother were getting ready to leave Heron Walk Apartments in Jacksonville, Florida to go for a ride in the car when all of a sudden Miguel was nowhere to be found. The grandmother had left the child unstrapped in the car seat in the driveway while she was preparing the back seat area for placement of the child car seat. After she realized that he was gone, the family spent the entire afternoon searching for the missing toddler in fear that he had been abducted. Tragically, with the help of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the family discovered Miguel’s body in a ditch only 12 feet from the grandmother’s car. Police reported that there was no evidence of foul play or neglect in the case.
While the thoughts and prayers of many go out the family of this young infant, it is a story that is told far to often during the summer time in Florida. Almost every year, Florida has one of the highest infant drowning rates in America, including 63 drowning-related deaths of children ages 1-4 in 2009 (#1 cause of death for children in the age bracket). Recognizing that the State of Florida had the highest early childhood accidental drowning rate in the nation, the Florida Office of Injury Prevention began a public outreach campaign in 2006, using its Injury Surveillance Data System to target the most affected counties. From 2007 to 2009, the campaign, “Keep Your Eyes on the Kids,” helped reduce the number of children ages 1 to 4 who drowned by 15 percent, and the drowning rate by 18 percent.
In some instances, criminal charges are filed against a parent, family member, or child care provider when there is a drowning that leads to the death or serious personal injury of a child. Just recently, a Jacksonville woman was sentenced to 15-years after a jury found her guilty of aggravated manslaughter. The woman had left 1-year-old Nathan Cook unattended at a Jacksonville apartment complex in November 2009. The child was able to get away and was later found in a nearby retention pond dead.