- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Just after looking at a picture of his grandson, the Rev. Richard S. Williams smiled as he explained that in recent weeks Jayden Williams, 6, had lost a few of his baby teeth as his mouth made room for the permanent ones. Even with holes where his teeth were supposed to be, Jayden would smile just as big as ever, Williams said.
Williams said he didn’t mind talking about Jayden, who drowned Nov. 3 after he fell into a lake in the Lancaster neighborhood in Waldorf.
Jayden was playing with friends on a concrete structure at a lake near Drake Court in Lancaster when he fell in the water, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office reported. The boy’s friends ran for help.
Sheriff’s officers and volunteer firefighters and paramedics arrived and searched the water. The boy was taken to the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata but died a short time later. The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Jayden’s death accidental.
Williams said the emergency personnel on the scene that Sunday did all they could for his grandson. He said Jayden’s school, C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, did a wonderful job tending to the family during its time of grief, and the community held a candlelight vigil in the neighborhood for the child.
The question Williams still has is, “Could this tragedy have been prevented, or does another child have to die and another family go through the grief and painful suffering that my family is enduring?”
Williams, of Johnstown Pa., came to Waldorf after the incident to be with his family. He said he walked out to the lake, into a wooded area and up a hill to where the concrete wall that crosses the lake is located. Williams said he had to see where his grandson fell.
While there are no-trespassing signs near the concrete structure, Williams said the wall is easily accessible from one end.
On one end of the wall, a fence with a no-trespassing sign attached to it blocks access. The other end does not have a fence or any kind of deterrent other than the signs, Williams said.
Williams does not have an issue with the neighborhood lake, one of many stormwater management lakes in the St. Charles area. He said the lake is peaceful and tranquil.
The challenge he said is what he called the “wall of death.”
While he acknowledges the signs, he said he wonders if they are low enough for children to see and for those who can’t read. He said he wonders if the signs could have a red circle with a line through it indicating that access is prohibited.
The Lancaster Neighborhood Association Board of Directors did not comment on an inquiry emailed to them about whether more signs or a fence were feasible or what it would take to get them in place. The board did offer their condolences on the “loss of one of our treasured neighborhood children,” in an email to a Maryland Independent reporter.
“Lancaster Neighborhood is a community of parents, children and families, and the entire community has been shocked and shaken by his loss. Our heartfelt condolences are extended to his family, friends and classmates,” the statement reads.
Williams said he did not want his grandson’s death to be in vain. He said Jayden lived an active life and that his death caused a lot of attention and brought out a lot of love and fellowship. Williams said he can’t bring back his grandson, a young boy whom he thought of as a son. He said what he can do is inquire about what things could be done to possibly prevent another child from dying in the same fashion his grandson did.
“There is nothing we can do about my family’s loss, but there are other families,” he said.