DECATUR, Ark. — A 2-year-old is dead after walking into a city facility in Decatur and later drowning.
According to a friend of the 2-year-old’s family, the child walked away from their home when the parents were unaware. The family friend said the child allegedly walked through an open gate at the Decatur Wastewater Plant on Austin Avenue and later drowned in a basin on the premises.
The Benton County prosecuting attorney, Nathan Smith, confirmed the incident happened on Sept. 25.
“From what I have heard from law enforcement, this appears to be a tragic accident, and, as a result, my office is not involved in any ongoing investigation,” said Smith.
KNWA/FOX24 reached out to the city’s police department for confirmation and an update on the incident, but our requests were denied by the city’s attorney.
In documents obtained through the freedom of information act, emails show the city updated the motorized gate at the wastewater plant shortly after the incident on Oct. 7.
Email correspondence between the city’s mayor and public works director said they were replacing the motor in the Decatur wastewater facility gate and the “main gate” of the facility was now functional.
However, it’s unknown whether the gate’s repair was related to the death of the 2-year-old.
Cilinda Williams lives in the neighborhood where the incident happened. She said she had no idea a child died at the wastewater plant. She’s concerned because a lot of kids live in the area and play near the facility.
“The two houses in front of mine have kids living there, and even the one right across the street from me — the kids are always out playing basketball and going to the playground right across the street,” said Williams.
Williams said she would often see the gate open when driving by but never gave it much thought.
There is an active investigation into the incident.