Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2005

Services set for drowning victims

Funerals scheduled Friday in aftermath of ‘terribly, terribly tragic accident’

July 21, 2005

Separate services are set for Friday for two Lansing 2-year-olds who drowned Monday in a residential swimming pool.

The dead have been identified as Emma Catherine McKnight, daughter of Dr. John and Jody McKnight, and Nicholas Bryant Anderson, son of Benjamin and Hillary Anderson. Nicholas was six days shy of his third birthday at the time of his death.

The two died early Monday afternoon after their bodies were pulled from a swimming pool at the Anderson's home in the Sherwood Forest subdivision on the city's far south side.

The funeral for Nicholas Anderson will be at 10 a.m. Friday at R.L. Leintz Funeral Home, Leavenworth. Burial will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery, Lansing.

Services for Emma McKnight will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Wallula Christian Church with burial at Mount Calvary Cemetery.

Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman said the police investigation into the drownings was continuing, but that foul play was not suspected.

"This is just a terribly, terribly tragic accident," he said.

According to Wayman, Hillary Anderson was babysitting her two children and a couple of their friends, including Emma, Monday morning at the house. The youngsters - all under the age of 10 - were playing in a downstairs area designated as a children's playroom. Hillary Anderson left the four children about 11 a.m. to fix lunch and called the children upstairs to eat about 11:40 a.m. At that time, the two older children came upstairs and said they didn't know where Emma and Nicholas were.

Hillary Anderson, Wayman said, went downstairs, discovered that the locked sliding glass doors that lead to the pool had been tampered with and opened. She discovered the bodies of the two children in the pool, dove in and pulled them out, ran inside to call 911 and then began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation to them.

The first emergency responders on the scene continued the resuscitation efforts, as did Leavenworth County EMS personnel. Emma and Nicholas were taken to St. John's Hospital, where resuscitation efforts continued until the youths were pronounced dead about 1 p.m.

Autopsies were performed Tuesday morning at Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.; results were not yet available.

Wayman said it was the first time in his 15 years with the Lansing Police Department that he'd dealt with a double drowning.

The families could not be reached for comment, and many family friends declined to comment about the deaths.

One neighbor of the Andersons, Jane Deskis, said she knew the family because her three sons were friends with Nicholas and his brother Cameron, 7. She said the Andersons and McKnights took turns watching each other's children.

Deskis called Hillary Anderson a responsible caregiver, and Deskis said she was worried about Anderson in the wake of the incident.

"We need to keep an eye on Hillary. That's just killing her because she loved those children," she said. "It's devastating that would happen to them.

"I can't imagine being in her shoes. It's just too terrible."

Deskis said she and her children saw the ambulances at the Andersons' house, and she came over to find out what had happened. She said she told her children about Emma and Nicholas once she found out. One of her sons wanted to go to Nicholas' funeral, "but we'll see," she said.

Deskis said her children were sad about their playmates, but she said they were handling the news well.

"It's kind of comforting because they will stop what they are doing and say a prayer for Nicholas and Emma when they come into their thoughts," Deskis said.

Deskis said she was willing to help her neighbors and was waiting to see what they would need.

"I just totally feel at a loss," she said. "You don't know what to do - you can't take the pain away. You wish you could.

"It makes you hug your own," she said.

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