GREENWOOD, Ind. — Two girls pulled from a retention pond in Greenwood have died.
“We watched them bring both of them out. As a parent, it’s devastating,” said Tesson Barbary, who lives in the neighborhood adjacent to the pond.
Authorities have identified one of the children who died as 11-year-old Paw Lin. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday, where the Marion County Coroner’s Office will work to determine her cause of death.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed the second juvenile female succumbed to her injuries and died on Thursday.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), local emergency crews were called to the area of Edgewater Drive and Apryl Drive Wednesday night just before 8 p.m. after receiving reports that multiple people were in the water.
Officials said a group had been playing in the water when two girls became separated from the group and couldn’t be seen. The Greenwood Fire Department and Greenwood Police Department were the first two agencies to arrive on scene.
According to GFD public information officer, Chad Tatman, firefighters and officers jumped in the water to search for the missing girls, while a dive team was also called in to assist.
“The reports we were getting were there were as many as up to five individuals; there were several individuals that were trying to pass along information,” said Tatman.
The girls were found at 8:05 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., according to the DNR.
Authorities sent in divers to verify that there were no additional victims in the pond. According to the Indianapolis Fire Department, its divers conducted underwater operations for about 45 minutes while firefighters worked to confirm the number of children still unaccounted for.
Once officials were able to confirm there was nobody else in the water, divers finished their search.
The investigation into what happened is being led by DNR Conservation Officers. Officials believe the unknown depth of the retention pond played a role in the tragedy that unfolded.
“One of the biggest dangers of open water like this is, you can’t see down. It’s not like a pool. One of the things that led to this tragedy last night is you had two or three feet of water, the kids were safe and another two feet later, it dropped off and went over their heads,” said Goldman.
In addition to dirty water that makes it difficult to see or may pose a health hazard, retention ponds also pose other dangers, like strong currents after a storm at inlet and outlet areas and steep sides that make it difficult for a person to climb back out once they go in.
“Who knows what happened. Someone could have went in after the other, trying to get the other one,” said Barbary. “It’s devastating.”
While officials understand the heat can be unbearable and people are looking for ways to beat it, they encourage anyone looking to cool off to go to a place like a pool or public pool, a beach, a reservoir, or any other swim area where barriers have been removed.
“Memorial Day Weekend is the first official kickoff to summer and this heat is the second official to kick off to summer. The best way to beat the heat is to get in the water. It’s fun and it can be safe, but you have to do it safely,” said Goldman.
Goldman added that retention ponds may be nice to look at, but can often be a nuisance and draw in people who may not be aware of the dangers. That’s why she recommends anyone living nearby one — or any body of water — have lifejackets at your home in the event any child or person needs help.
She also reminds that no matter your swimming capability, there are always factors that may be out of your control in any body of water you encounter.
“What makes the biggest difference in these water emergencies is either knowing how to swim or not swim and whether there’s a lifejacket on or at least near,” said Goldman.
The Bargersville Fire Department, Indianapolis Fire Department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and Southport Police Department also assisted at the scene.