Hinesville residents calling for action after 3-year-old drowns in pond next to playground

HINESVILLE, GA (WTOC) - A Hinesville neighborhood is looking for answers after a three-year-old autistic boy drowned in a pond last week.

Parents who live nearby are questioning why the pond is so close to a playground. They're calling for action to make sure it never happens again.

Parents tell us they've always been concerned about the pond. They say it's a hazard for their children who run and play in the neighborhood every day, and they were afraid a tragedy would happen before property owners listened - and it did.

"We'd like to have it fenced off or filled in. It had no use to our community. It's in a very dangerous place and it makes absolutely zero sense to have a pool fenced in, but a pond open that a child can play and fall into," one parent said.

We walked from the playground to the pond, counting about 20-29 steps to reach the edge of the pond. That's where Ayiden was found. Neighbors in Governors Quarters say it shouldn't have taken a tragedy for concerns about this pond to come to light.

"They don't answer. They don't return calls. They don't return emails."

We tried calling the property owners all day on Wednesday, and we couldn't get an answer.

"Obviously, something needs to be done.It's just a matter of getting someone to do it," said realtor, Elaine Boggs.

Boggs says if the residents of this neighborhood have already exhausted all options with contacting property managers and developers, then perhaps getting together as a group and going to the city could make this area safer for children.

"There is a problem and it needs to be fixed, so I'm hoping that the association or someone over it will step up to the plate and then they will get involved and see what they can do to remedy this and to meet with the people over there and see what the common resolve could be," Boggs said.

Residents say they also pay $100 a month in HOA fees so they don't understand why they can't get an answer when they call, or why they can't have a meeting as a community with the HOA about the pond and safety concerns.

"If we don't give them their income, they are going to have to do something."

Residents hope getting the word out about this tragedy and the dangers this pond poses will make the owners of the property's step up and make their neighborhood safer.

"With him gone, he's protecting other children in our community. He's forever going to watch over our children knowing that this is either filled or fenced off and no other child can be lost."

We also reached out to the city of Hinesville, who told us they couldn't comment at the time because the death is under investigation. We'll continue to follow this story until changes are made.

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