Investigation Continues Into Death Of Lakewood, N.J. Toddler Who Fell Into Septic Tank

Neighbors Echo Call Of Family: Nobody Seemed To Know The Hole Was There

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Investigators are trying to determine how a missing Lakewood toddler ended up dead in an underground septic tank.

It’s unknown just how long the 2-year-old, who relatives identified as “J.C.”, was inside the underground tank. Her body was found Monday night after authorities said her parents reported her missing.

Rescue workers described the horrific discovery.

“I didn’t really see the body. I just noticed they found something,” said Michael Stewart with the Lakewood Department of Public Works. “They found the body as they looked. Depressed that they found the body in the septic tank.”

Investigators said the little girl had been playing in the yard with her four siblings Monday afternoon when she disappeared.

She was missing about 20 minutes when her mother, Marina Matias, called police and they launched an intense search, bringing in police helicopters, K-9 units and dozens of officers.

After three hours, investigators found a three-foot hole in the backyard leading to an underground septic tank and inside, the little girl’s body.

Investigators have called the girl’s death a tragic accident and said they believe the she simply fell through the hole, which was uncovered.

The young man believed to be the father of the 2-year-old girl appeared at the scene on Tuesday. His look told the story, a face filled in the emotions indicating what he must be struggling through.

The little girl’s aunt told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman in Spanish, “This is such a terrible tragedy. Who could have imagined such a thing would happen to a little girl?”

J.C.’s mother, who rents the home, told police she didn’t even know the hole existed. Next-door neighbor Richard Castellucci told CBS 2’s Guzman he also didn’t know.

“Yes, my son used to run through there and play with the kids that lived there about two years ago,” Castellucci said, adding when asked if his son is still permitted to roam the yards, “no, no more.”

When asked if anyone knew the septic tank hole was there, Castellucci said, “I sure as hell didn’t.”

Most of the homes in this Lakewood neighborhood have underground tanks, including neighbor Lisa Brown’s house. She was home Monday and watched as the tragedy unfolded steps from her front door.

“My heart just went out to the family because you don’t want something like that to happen,” she said. “There are a lot of children in this neighborhood and older houses, it never even occurred to me that something like that might happen.”

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is looking into all the circumstances surrounding the child’s death, including whether the owner of the home could potentially be held liable.

Please share your thoughts below…

Comments

One Comment

  1. millie says:

    I just moved to lakewood an as i sat at the park one day i seen small children roaming around are close to crossing the streets i believe that that we as parents need to keep a closer watch on our little children wheever we go
    we canot leave them in the hands of ohers this is somthing that we should all learn from and not pass jugement on the mother we all make mistakes but maybe this can save another child
    may we pray for this family and for our children

  2. Dr meh says:

    It’s not the parent’s fault. The landlord should have had it covered. Poor people can’t afford mc mansions, but that doesn’t mean their rentals should have open septic tanks. That’s the landlord’s business to take care of. How many of you have gone into backyards and go through a check list for “check septic tank”?

  3. CLR says:

    there was a hole near the septic, the kids were playing in a yard that is vacant no one knew there was a hole near the septic. My nephew played in that yard when the house was lived in, this is a tragic accident it could have happened to anyone..

  4. Mind Your F*cking Business says:

    I wish all you busy bodies would STF up and mind your business. If perfectly fine for kids to play in their yard by themselves with a parent checking in every so often. Who are YOU to say the parents are irresponsible without knowing ANYTHING about them or what happened? The chances of this kind of accident happening are 1 in a million. If anyone is charged in this, I am going to bring in a hundred or so activists to protest.

    1. Jean says:

      I’m with you. It’s not like she was off somewhere away from her home. She was in her own yard and with her siblings. She was only missing for 20 minutes when the mother called the authorities so obviously the mother WAS checking on them every so often. People love to be all high-and-mighty and judgemental until something similar happens to them. Leave the family alone. They have enough grief at this moment.

  5. maura labelle says:

    Why Would The Septic Be Uncovered ? Or Was It ? Sounds Pretty Weird To Me, Is There More To This Story ? Acidents do happen, But This Is Strange

  6. KIMMIE says:

    JUST DRIVE THREW LAKEWOOD AT ANY GIVEN TIME OF DAY AND THERE ARE MORE UNATTENDED CHILDREN THEN ONE CAN BELIEVE, SOCIAL SERVES SHOULD BE OUT ON PATROL, UP AND DOWN THE STREETS, IT’S AMAZING THAT THERE AREN’T MORE CHILDREN BEING HURT IN LAKEWOOD, OR KID NAPPED RIGHT OFF THE STREET. MOMMY’S YOU NEED TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOUR BABIES, AND DON’T LET THEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT FOR A MOMENT.

  7. Wow says:

    How did this child get in there? The lid was obviously too heavy for a two year old to lift.. wonder if the siblings got tired of babysitting..

  8. DIANN says:

    ARE WE SAYING THE BABY WAS IN THE YARD PLAYING W/HER SIBLINGS UNATTENDED ? WHAT WAS THE MOTHER DOING THAT WAS SO IMPORTANT @ THE TIME. WHEN YOUR CHILDREN ARE @ PLAY YOU DON’T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THEM ! ! THIS IS WHY I SAY: BECAUSE YOU HAVE CHILDREN, DOES “NOT” MAKE YOU A PARENT !

    1. t says:

      I AGREE __SHE WASNT WATCHING HER KID. YOU DONT LEAVE A 2 YEAR OLD UNATTENDED. BESIDES, WHEN YOU BUY A HOME__DONT YOU LOOK FOR THESE THINGS? MAKE SURE ITS SAFE?

  9. tony ogorek says:

    good job mom we need more parents like you

Comments are closed.

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