CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A makeshift memorial is growing outside the home of two young siblings who drowned in a neighbor’s pool in Central Islip.
Neighbors have been bringing stuffed animals, lighting candles and saying prayers for Ralph Knowles, 5, and Sharon Knowles, 7, outside their Naples Avenue home.
The two died Sunday after they were pulled from the dark, murky waters of a neighbor’s uncovered above ground pool, police said.
Police received a 911 call around 3:30 p.m. from the children’s mother Tia Knowles reporting that the two had disappeared from their home, police said.
“The police responded and started a search and in doing that search, a police officer saw what he believed to be a shoe floating in a backyard pool of a neighbor’s house,” said Suffolk County police Sgt. Edward Fandrey.
Officers jumped into the 4-foot-deep pool and found the unconscious bodies of Ralph and Sharon. The brother and sister were taken to Southside Hospital where they were pronounced dead, police said.
The pool is located just behind the Knowles’ property on Half Mile Road. Investigators said the pool was enclosed, but the fence was not properly installed and may have made it easier for the kids to climb.
“The exposed side of the stockade fence was facing out, instead of the smooth side,” Fandrey said, adding the pool’s owner had been cited by the town for improper fencing.
Neighbor Isabel Fuentes said she saw Sharon and Ralph get through the fence just last Friday.
“It’s pretty easy cause you just have to pull on that side and you can get in,” she said. “I saw the girl and the little boy. The girl opened the fence and she went to the pool and started throwing rocks at the pool.”
Another neighbor, Donnavon Downs, said he saw the children climbing a tree in their yard earlier in the day Sunday.
“I saw them on the limb right there and I don’t know if they look over, curious on the other side see the pool, so it was very sad.”
Other neighbors are overwhelmed by the young lives that were lost.
“They were very nice children and we’re going to miss them,” said neighbor Christine Campbell.
Police are still investigating.