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Suffolk neighborhood discusses safety after 6-year-old found dead in pond

Posted at 11:19 PM, Mar 25, 2015

Suffolk, Va. - A student at Creekside Elementary School was found dead in a Suffolk pond Wednesday evening.

Police were called out to the scene in the 3500 block of Kempton Park Road in the Kempton Park neighborhood in northern Suffolk and were told a 6-year-old boy was missing.

They received the call at 5:51 p.m. and shortly afterward they discovered his body in a retention pond. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"There was a basketball and they said they believed that he was out there reaching to get his ball," says neighbor Sadonna Lee.

The boy attended Creekside Elementary School as a kindergartner.  Counselors were present on Thursday to speak to children if they needed. A letter was sent home to parents with explaining what happened and contained information about how to support children dealing with death and grief.

Neighbors say they want to see a fence put around the retention pond to prevent future incidents. NewsChannel 3 reached out to the Kempton Park Homeowners Association, but initially they refused to comment. On Monday, the President of the Kempton Park HOA, Ray Laffoon explained how they are planning on taking action. He says he didn't realize the dangers of the pond and none of the homeowners expressed their concerns.

"Other homeowners have told their kids about the dangers but they never brought to us and I think we would have probably done something," Laffoon said. "Now that it's there I feel that I need to do something and react. I do want the community to know that we are going to do something about it and we aren't just going to let it go."

Laffoon says he is already in talks with the city to see what they recommend and that he is already putting out bids to fencing companies.

"I really want to have something for the homeowners at the annual meeting," Laffoon added.

The City of Suffolk did respond to our inquiries regarding fencing around the retention ponds:

"The approved construction plans and details for the Kempton Park neighborhood do not reference or include fencing around any of the storm water BMP's within the development. In regard to a fence around a retention pond (BMP) down the street, we do not know who installed the fence and can only confirm that specific retention pond is located in what is referred to as a park site on the construction plans. The City of Suffolk does not own any of these properties and is not aware of any request to fence the retention ponds (BMP'S) in the neighborhood in the past.

The current code in effect for the design of stormwater quality requirements is the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Stormwater Design Specification No. 14.   A review of this document indicates that “Fencing of the perimeter of wet ponds is discouraged…”.

Even though it's discouraged by the Virginia DEQ Stormwater Design, Laffoon says he's going to move forward with putting up a fence to make sure this never happens again.

"We need to find ways to protect our families the best we can," Laffoon said.

The topic is expected to come up at the next Kempton Park Homeowner's Association meet on April 7th.