Volusia deputies investigate after 2 kids drown in backyard pool

2-year-old girl, 1-year-old boy pulled from swimming pool, cops say


HOLLY HILL, Fla. – Two toddlers drowned in the family pool as two adults slept inside, Volusia County deputies said.

The children were discovered lifeless in the in-ground pool on Valencia Avenue near Holly Hill Thursday at 11:28 a.m. Investigators said the frantic call to 911 said the children were not breathing.

"I watched the two stretchers come out. It was pretty horrible -- screaming. She was very distraught. It was worse than I've ever seen," said Russ Deutsch, who lives across the street and watched the mother sob over her child and grandchild.

Investigators with VCSO and the Department of Children and Families confirm a mother and another adult were inside the home when the mother's 2-year-old girl, Shana Cavanaugh, and her 1-year-old grandson, Ashton Jenkins, drowned in the pool. The women were babysitting the boy.

"I just heard her screaming and she carried one of her babies outside," said Mike Kenson, a neighbor. "That's when the EVAC came."

Deutsch said the adults at the home were always attentive.

"(I) always saw them together. (The) parents were always out in the yard. The woman was always out in the yard, always with her kids," said Deutsch. "Everybody was happy over there."

Deputies said there is a sliding glass door that leads to the pool area. It's unclear how the children got out, or when. Investigators believe the children might have been under water for a while before they were found. They were rushed to local hospitals, but it was too late.

"We were hoping that wasn't the case," said Deutsch. "Nobody really knew if they were going to make it or not. Terrible thing, just a terrible thing."

DCF is investigating and said a 5-year-old who was home at the time is now in DCF protective custody. Another 3-year-old who normally lives in the home was not home at the time, and DCF said they told that child's mother that she and her baby needed to leave the home as well.

Nobody has been charged with any crime.

"It's a tragedy it happened," said Danielle Davis, the childrens' aunt, adding that it has been a nightmare for the family. "We are all just trying to deal with what has happened. My mom and sister are having a very difficult time."

Anthony Carter said he was one of several neighbors on Valencia Avenue who heard 33-year-old Martha Jenkins, mother to at least one of the children, screaming for help.

"She kept running in the house, running out. She fall on the ground and wailing in the grass just tumbling. "My babies, my babies, my baby," said Carter.

The family told Local 6, they just want to have some privacy.

This drowning marks the third child drowning in Volusia County in the past two weeks.

DCF is urging parents to lock sliding glass doors, put up fences around pools and install inexpensive pool alarms to reduce the risk of another death.

Click here for more information on summer safety tips from DCF.