Monday, July 7, 2014

Two-Year-Old Drowns In Algae-Filed Prospect Park Lake

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The heartbroken mother of two-year-old Ruhshona Kurbonova at the scene on Saturday. Her daughter had wandered off  shortly after 1:00 p.m. during a family picnic and fell into the Lake in Prospect Park and drowned.  Police fanned out across the park to search for the missing toddler. Her body was found by NYPD police divers after a five-hour search.   The city's medical examiner officially ruled the death of a two-year-old Brooklyn girl this weekend an accidental drowning.   (Photo: Debbie Egan-Chin/ New York Daily News)

Rescuers struggled to find the girl because of a murky green algae called Azolla caroliniana, which covers the lake and has been a source of contention for years.


A Brooklyn mom wailed inconsolably Saturday after her 2-year-old daughter drowned in Prospect Park Lake during a family barbecue turned holiday weekend horror, according to the New York Daily News. 

The NYPD Scuba Unit found tiny Ruhshona Kurbonova after a frantic and ultimately tragic five-hour search for the missing tyke in the sprawling 585-acre Prospect Park, cops said.

Her heartbroken mother sat screaming and sobbing on the Brooklyn lake’s grassy bank as paramedics walked toward the water carrying a stretcher around 6:30 p.m. The toddler, who stood just 2 feet tall, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Paramedics then needed a second stretcher for the 37-year-old mom, an Uzbekistan immigrant whose 3-year-old nephew was found shortly after wandering off with Ruhshona around 1:10 p.m. When family members asked the tot what happened to his cousin, the boy pointed ominously at the lake, witnesses said.

“My heart is broken hearing the mother scream,” said Shavonne Dillard, 35, whose church group joined the search for Ruhshona.

“Right now, her child is gone.”

The boy’s father was seen sobbing later at the family’s home as relatives offered their condolences. The Muslim family planned to fly their baby home for burial in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, early this week.

NYPD community liaison Erham Yildrim visited to read the Quran with the shattered family.

Ruhshona was the youngest in her family and the lone girl after her parents had three boys, said the superintendent of their Brooklyn building. “She’s a little angel,” said super Zada Bacoj, 60.

“A beautiful, nice-looking girl. What bigger heartbreak than this do you want? I feel shocked and I feel sad.”  

Paulo, Kim, and 6-year-old Primo Ventura of Brooklyn look at the algae-covered lake in Prospect Park on Sunday.
The algae that covers the LAKE in Prospect Park has been a source of contention for years. (Photo: NormanY. Lono/For New York Daily News)

The two youngsters slipped quietly away from the get-together near the park’s boathouse — with both apparently heading for the murky water on a warm July afternoon, cops said.

The older kid was quickly located, covered in the algae that rims the lip of the lake.

“Another family was walking and they heard a cry coming from some bushes near the water and they looked and found the boy all wet,” said one witness, who identified herself only as April.

“There was the green stuff, the algae, all in his nose and his hair.”

When cops arrived, the mother said the little girl was missing and had possibly gone into the lake near the boathouse where the family was gathered.

“I don’t know what happened,” one of Ruhshona’s three older brothers told the Daily News at the family’s Brooklyn apartment.

The party, one day after the Fourth of July, was held on a gorgeous afternoon beneath blue skies before death turned the day dark.

The mom, whose English is shaky, was eventually removed to a local hospital for evaluation once police brought her out of the park. Though investigators plan to question the mother and consult with the Brooklyn district attorney, criminal charges in the tragedy were highly unlikely, police sources said.

The family moved into their building about three years ago, and Bacoj described the parents as hard-working and devoted to their four kids.

“They’re very nice people,” said the building super. “It’s very sad. They’re a very good family. How this happened, I don’t know.”

A horde of cops had scrambled across the park to hunt for the toddler with shoulder-length black hair.

The girl was dressed adorably in white shorts, a white shirt and pink sandals. Desperate officers with a photo of the missing child flashed the shot to parkgoers, while others hung missing person posters.

Additional cops searched the vast area by bicycle and helicopter before the hunt came to a halt with the recovery of the little girl’s body. Valery Vaval, 44, was spending the day in the park with her sister and a friend when the search began.

“Police came asking if we had seen the child who went missing,” said Vaval, who had not spotted the youngster.

Through it all, Dillard said, Ruhshona’s panic-stricken mom was seen pacing by the lake as each terrifying minute, and hour, passed.

“She was just throwing her hands up,” Dillard said. “She was frantic.”

After scouring the park, Dillard and her church group lingered for a bit. “We stuck around just praying, hoping that she was OK,” she said.

Read More:

Family mourns loss of 2-year-old girl who drowned at Prospect Park Lake On Sunday
New York Daily News - July 6, 2014 - By  Laura Bult, Jill castellano and Reuven Blau 

New York Daily News July 5, 2014 - By Jan Ransom, Natalie Musumeci, Thomas Tracy   

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