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Investigation into child drownings continues

By Staff | May 17, 2017

Authorities are investigating the drowning of two young children in Cape Coral Monday.

At 10:14 p.m., Cape police responded to a drowning at 1330 S.W. 47th Terrace, Unit 103. Upon arriving, police discovered a 3-year-old boy lying in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Also in the parking lot was Eric Merchant Sr., 25, who stated that his children had drowned in the pool.

As an officer began CPR on the boy, another man came running out of one of the apartments at the complex with a 1-year-old girl, according to a report. He said he thought she was still breathing.

Medics took over the CPR and the children were transported to the Cape Coral Hospital.

Merchant told police that he went to the restroom upstairs and when he came back down, he noticed that his children were in the pool motionless. He said he ran to the pool and pulled both children out of it. Merchant took his son out into the parking lot in front of the complex and started yelling for help.

The other man told police that he was sleeping on the couch when he was awakened by Merchant yelling that the kids were in the pool. He went out to the pool area and saw Merchant had both children out of the water. He attempted to perform CPR on the girl until bringing her out to the parking lot.

According to the report, Merchant said he did not know how his children got outside. He told officers that there is supposed to be a fence surrounding the pool so the children cannot get into the water.

The boy and the girl were pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“We’re absolutely devastated for this family,” Natalie Harrell, with DCF’s SunCoast Region, said on Tuesday. “We will work to support them as much as we can as they grieve this extraordinary loss.”

She confirmed that DCF has opened a child death investigation into the incident.

“The family has no prior contact with the child welfare system,” Harrell said.