Family and friends are mourning a 4-year-old boy who drowned at a New Jersey park over the weekend.
Elijah Chaney was with his family Saturday around 7 p.m. at Waltman Park in Millville, New Jersey. NJ.com reports his mother was attending to her infant while Elijah and his 8-year-old brother were playing. That's when Elijah went missing. Nicole, a former lifeguard from Downingtown, told NBC10 she had spotted the boy walking to an area near the Maurice River where other people were fishing earlier.
"I saw him walk up there and I had assumed somebody was over there fishing with him or I wouldn't have let him go," she said. "I had assumed someone else was watching him."
Nicole said she then spotted Elijah's mother searching for him. The two women as well as Elijah's brother then spotted the boy in the water.
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"It was at least ten minutes that he was out of everyone's sight," she said.
A passerby pulled Elijah out of the water. After calling 911, Nicole and the other man began performing CPR on the boy but to no avail.
"He was unresponsive and there was no pulse," she said.
Nicole then went to comfort the boy's mother as two other men performed CPR on him and officials arrived. Elijah was taken to Inspira Medical Center Vineland where he was later pronounced dead. Police are currently investigating the death and interviewing the child’s loved ones.
“Obviously there are some things that we’re going to have to look at,” said Millville Police Captain Jody Farabella. “If there was any parent neglect or anything like that.”
Swimming is not permitted along the stretch of the Maurice River that goes through Millville. In 2009 a 15-year-old boy died when he fell in the river while trying to grab his fishing pole.
“There is fishing there,” Captain Farabella said. “You can do that. But there is no active swimming on this river. There’s danger. There are no lifeguards. There’s nobody actually watching them to swim. So that’s not a designated area.”
NBC10 reached out to officials to find out if the city or the Department of Fish and Game are obligated to post any “caution” or “no swimming” signs. We have not yet heard back from them.