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Autopsy finds boy's drowning accidental

Child's mother, community still want answers

Monday, June 17, 2013 9:07 PM
Last updated Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:41 AM
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The results of a state autopsy released Monday officially closed the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into the drowning of an 8-year-old Hephzibah boy, but the child’s grieving mother and neighbors are still demanding answers and say the case is “incomplete.”

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Jeannette Stevens, mother of Jon Stevens, says she wants the truth about the case.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Jeannette Stevens, mother of Jon Stevens, says she wants the truth about the case.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Jon Stevens, a second-grade student from McBean Elementary School, “accidentally drowned” on April 13, while cleaning an in-ground pool off Hunters Mill Court in Hephzibah.

Although the report remains unofficial until approved by Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten, local officials said the state medical examiner’s findings likely will hold, despite concerns by the child’s mother, the Hephzibah community and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference about how the case has been handled.

“Our investigation is complete and we have no reason to believe that any foul play was involved,” Lt. Calvin Chew, spokesman for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement. “No additional witnesses have come forward with any information that would lead us to believe that this was anything more than a tragic accident.”

Some Hunters Mill residents sent a letter to Sheriff Richard Roundtree on Monday, asking him to meet with them so they could give their statements, “since nobody ever questioned us,” said Kelli Miller Pierson, of the neighborhood.

Jeannette Stevens, the boy’s mother, said a Sponge­Bob SquarePants T-shirt he was wearing when he drowned was seized as evidence last week, two months after his death.

“The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said their investigation is complete, but they really have not had an investigation,” Stevens said. “They have not subpoenaed evidence. They have not conducted follow-up interviews to corroborate stories. There is too much suspicion surrounding this case to close it.”

Stevens said the timing of the investigation also does not “add up.” Sheriff’s deputies waited four hours after Stevens reported her son missing at 9 p.m. to search the pool in which he was last seen, despite surveillance video and eyewitness accounts confirming that Jon entered the shallow end of the pool about 7:30 p.m. to gather debris in the water.

Ashley Pletcher, the investigator assigned to the case by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies “assumed” Jon was in the pool, but opted to search the neighborhood and Stevens’ house to confirm the child had not been abducted.

A dive team was not called until 1 a.m. Jon was pulled from the pool’s deep end.

Stevens said the delay does not sit well with her, and she wants the truth.

Pletcher said all witness statements were consistent and Tuten said he felt the investigation’s findings were solid.

“If the state medical examiner determined the drowning was accidental and the sheriff’s office believes there was no foul play involved, I’d probably go with accidental drowning,” Tuten said. “But right now, the case is pending review.”

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scoopdedoop64
2488
Points
scoopdedoop64 06/18/13 - 09:52 pm
0
1
It appears to me that the

It appears to me that the mother just can't accept the fact that her child is gone and she is grieving and so she thinks someone has to be fault or something is being covered up. There are some people who believe there is always a conspiracy especially if they think it could be race related.

fishman960
1502
Points
fishman960 06/18/13 - 10:07 pm
1
1
Blame

I'm not sure if I could accept the fact of it was an accident if that was my child. I wouldn't be blaming anybody per se, but I don't think I could EVER stop asking questions.
I almost lost my child to cancer. We thank God every day she is in remission. That was grief enough.
I have a friend that lost her daughter to a car accident last year and for the life of me do not understand how she faces every day.
If you lost your child do you think you could JUST ACCEPT IT, or would you shake every tree to find answers?

averagejoe1
6
Points
averagejoe1 06/18/13 - 10:40 pm
0
1
accidental drowning

where were the parents while this CHILD was roaming the neighborhood UNATTENDED for several HOURS? if the mother had been half as responsible and concerned then as she pretends to be now, this might not have happened. it's over. quit blaming everyone but yourself and let this poor child rest in peace.

scoopdedoop64
2488
Points
scoopdedoop64 06/18/13 - 10:42 pm
1
0
@fisherman960

No, I was not meaning to say what she should do. I was just trying to give some reason why she is responding the way she was. Most people ask "why?" when they face some tragic event like this. I would like to think that if I lost my child I could accept it because of my faith but who can really say what they would do until such a time actually comes. I would just say in this instance all the facts seem to point to an accident and a tragic one. Prayers are certainly with them all.

averagejoe1
6
Points
averagejoe1 06/18/13 - 10:42 pm
0
0
roundtree

Is Roundtree going to put the name of his bodyguard on the side of his car also or will there be room for it?

fishman960
1502
Points
fishman960 06/18/13 - 10:46 pm
2
0
Well then

A compassioned post got me a thumbs down. I hope that person never loses their child.

Soggy_Bottom
45
Points
Soggy_Bottom 06/19/13 - 06:59 am
0
0
Unattended

Obviously some people don't understand the meaning of UNATTENDED. This child had permission to go across the street to a long-time friends house. KNOWN whereabouts. The kids go back and forth to each others homes ALL THE TIME. It is across the street for goodness sake! My question would be this: "Where were the parents at the house with the pool?"

As for "Race Related", this is not the case. It is a case of "RIGHT vs WRONG." Blacks and Whites and Hispanics and little blue ALIENS can have interactions - good and bad - without it being "Race Related." Grow up already.

augrichgal
327
Points
augrichgal 06/19/13 - 01:18 pm
0
0
From what I read in the

From what I read in the original artcile, the child was playing with friends at a different house. I do not know how long the parents of that household didnt know he wasnt around. He went next door when he saw older boys cleaning the pool he "decided" to help. I saw a picture of that pool, an 8 year old doesnt realize the dangers of entering a dirty, algae infested pool. It is slimy and the slope to the deepend will slide you down in a second. that water was over his head and unable to swim in the best of conditions he didnt have a chance unless the 2 teen boys realized he was down there.

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