Child, uncle drown in pool in Prince George's

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2010

A 12-year-old boy and his uncle drowned Thursday in Prince George's County after the child jumped into a neighbor's swimming pool and the man tried to rescue him, authorities said.

Firefighters arrived at the pool in the 9300 block of Midland Turn in Marlton and found Najee Clark and his uncle, David Massey, 59, at the eight-foot bottom of the deep end, authorities said. The firefighters pulled the pair out of the pool, but neither Najee nor his uncle was breathing or had a pulse, and both were pronounced dead a short time later at a hospital, authorities said.

Police said neither Najee nor his uncle knew how to swim, and it is unclear why the boy went over a fence and into the pool. Authorities said Najee was visiting his uncle, who lived on Fairhaven Avenue next to the home with the pool, and other children alerted family members after the boy jumped into the water. It was 95 degrees at the time, according to the National Weather Service.

A woman in the uncle's home near Upper Marlboro called 911 about 2:30 p.m. while the uncle tried to save his nephew, authorities said.

Charles Soper, 69, a neighbor, said he drove past the house about 2 p.m. and saw some children standing on a trash can, peering through the wooden fence that encloses the yard with the pool. He said he thinks Massey -- a friend of his -- and Najee were probably in the water at that time.

"I'm just horrified," he said. "I'm so depressed with what happened, because David was just so kind to me."

Soper said that Massey looked out for him as he recovered from recent surgery and that the two would often talk about yardwork. He said Massey lived in the home with his brother and his brother's wife, and he was looking for work. A group of children, he said, would sometimes visit the house.

"They're a very quiet, lovely family," he said.

Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department, said the pool ranges in depth from three feet to eight feet and the surrounding fence is about seven feet high. He said the fence gate was locked at the time of the incident. Brady said that homicide detectives would probe the drownings but that they appeared to be accidental.

The resident of the house with the pool was in the front yard doing maintenance work when the incident occurred, Brady said. He said the man did not know anything was wrong until the person who called 911 came around to the front of the house. A man in the yard of that house on Thursday said, "Somebody died in our swimming pool." He declined further comment.

A woman who answered the phone at Massey's house declined to comment. Family members gathered on the driveway also declined to comment.

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