Lawrence girl, 11, drowns in backyard pool

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LAWRENCE – An 11-year-old Lawrence girl died after apparently becoming tangled in the cover of her family’s backyard pool.

It happened around 6:30 p.m. Monday at a home in the 4300 block of North Sadlier Drive.

According to a report from the Lawrence Police Department, Sarai Perez had asked her 17-year-old brother to come swimming with her in the family’s new above-ground pool. When her brother said he would meet her there in a few minutes, Sarai went ahead without him. Their mother was in the kitchen at the time.

When the older brother got to the pool five to seven minutes later, he found Sarai tangled in the pool cover, under the water. He pulled her out of the water, and the family called 911.

Lawrence Fire Department responders were performing CPR on the girl when police arrived. Sarai was transported to Community Hospital North, where she was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later.

“The doctors, they tried to work on her to see if she could come back, but it didn’t happen,” said Sarai’s father, Francisco Perez. He was at work at the time of the incident, and raced to the hospital when he heard what happened.

“She meant so much for us,” he said. “Our only daughter, our princess. Our happiness, our joy.”

Lt. Bill Brown with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the drowning is a heartbreaking example of how quickly such cases can occur.

“Great parents doing the right things at the right times taking their eyes off for just a moment around water can lead to tragedy,” Brown said.

DNR research shows that the most common factor in childhood drowning cases is an unattended child.

Brown says it’s essential for parents to talk to their kids about not going into any body of water alone, while realizing that even good kids don’t always do what they’re told.

“Water is a great thing,” he said. “We as human beings love it. But incidents can happen and take no time at all. So stay vigilant.”

Three children are among the 27 open water drowning cases in Indiana so far in 2013.

Those numbers do not include statistics for swimming pool drownings, which are tracked by individual cities and towns.

Lawrence Police gave no indication of criminal neglect while investigating Monday night’s drowning.

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