The parents of 2-year-old Franklin Parker, who drowned in a Baker County retention pond in April, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the property, alleging he should have built a fence around the pond.
Franklin’s body was discovered in the pond April 23 after he wandered away from the apartment where he was being babysat by his 18-year-old sister. A neighbor tried to perform CPR on him, but he died at Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital.
The owner of the property, Stephen Clarence Williams Jr., applied for a permit for construction of the retention pond in 2016 to be used for stormwater treatment. The plan submitted to the district detailed the construction of a 6-foot fence with a self-latching gate.
Attorneys for the family said that Williams didn’t install the fence as detailed in the construction plans when he built the retention pond.
Amy Tisdale, who lives by the pond, said that a lot of kids reside in the neighborhood.
“Whenever you dug that ditch and put water in and I’m over here like, you should have put a fence up or some type of security to keep kids from over there,” Tisdale said. “Very too late and it’s a tragedy and I feel sorry for his mom and his family.”
In the lawsuit, Franklin’s parents claim that the corporation built the pond with a dangerous slope and didn’t provide warnings about the pond’s depth. They also allege that the property owner knew or should have known how risky the unfenced pond was to the public.
“This tragedy was preventable,” said defense attorney Glen Levine. “Our clients are devastated, and we are working hard to ensure that those at fault take responsibility.”
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