The Jacksonville (Florida) Sheriff’s Office is investigating the recent drowning death of a child in a retention pond behind an apartment complex. Florida has a law that requires swimming pool owners to have a fence or barrier around the pool. Pursuant to Section 515.29, Florida Statutes, the barrier must be at least 4 feet high from the outside. You can read more about the barrier requirements at the Official Site for the Florida Statutes – Section 515.29. Unfortunately, there is not a similar law in place for retention ponds at apartment complexes. When there is a body of water surrounding a business or apartment complex, Florida law does not require a barrier around every single body of water. Each case or situation would be judged on its own merits. The following questions would apply:
How close was the body of water / retention pond to the apartment complex?
Were children known to play or be in the area near the retention pond?
Have there been other incidents when a child has fallen in, played in, or drowned in the retention pond?
Would the retention pond qualify as an “Attractive Nuisance” to children under Florida law that could, in turn, require the apartment complex to have a barrier around the pond?
The 1 year old who drowned and other children were being watched by his mother when the incident took place. Some how, the child wandered away and into the retention pond. It was reported that a resident of the apartment complex was concerned that there was no a fence around the retention pond.
It is certainly a sad moment in time for the family of this small child and the community when a child this young dies as a result of a preventable incident. You can read more about this story at 1 Year Old Child Dies / Downs in Jacksonville, Florida.