FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — Fayetteville police said a Vandergriff Elementary student died after wandering away from school Tuesday (March 7) and drowning in a nearby private pool.
A 6-year-old boy was discovered missing around 2:45 p.m. during a recess period, and shortly after, he was found unresponsive in a pool that’s adjacent to the elementary school, according to a news release from Fayetteville Police Department.
The child wandered away during recess, said Public Information Officer Alan Wilbourn with Fayetteville Public Schools.
The boy was initially taken to Washington Regional Medical Center, and after, to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital where he died Wednesday (March 8) shortly after 10 a.m.
The child’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.
Wilbourn said the school district is working with police on the investigation, and said the district invites their employees and community to pray for the boy’s family.
“We are devastated by this tragedy. Fayetteville Public Schools, Vandergriff Elementary School and our community are grieving the loss of a young life,” said Fayetteville Superintendent Matthew Wendt. “Our deepest sympathy is extended to this child’s parents, grandparents, extended family, and loved ones. I ask the Fayetteville community to keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Counselors will be at the school for the remainder of the week for students and faculty.
“Yesterday’s accident has created an unbelievable level of pain for so many wonderful people,” Wendt said. “We will mourn together and comfort each other through this most difficult time.”
Wendt said they are conducting their own interview into the incident and will take as long as they need to get all of the answers.
He could not answer why there was no fence around the playground saying he had only been superintendent for eight to nine months and had questions of his own.
“This is a call to do what we need to do and that is to go out and specifically look at all of our campuses to make sure that one, they remain safe and two, that this type of tragedy never occurs,” Wendt said.
He said conversations have already started about placing a fence around the playground.
Wendt explained four para professionals were watching the children when the boy went missing.
He said it was a personnel matter and could not say if those para professionals would face disciplinary action.