All they wanted to do was feed the ducks.
So grandmother and granddaughter strolled from the family home in Miramar to a nearby community lake.
Then they disappeared.
Panicked relatives called police about 11 p.m. Sunday, and officers and paramedics poured into the Silver Shores neighborhood to look for 59-year-old Laura and 4-year-old Leila Fleming.
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They found a Little Mermaid cup sitting by the lake’s edge.
Rescuers made their way to the water, where they searched the lake using flashlights. They first found the body of Laura Fleming floating in the murky water. Five minutes later, Leila Fleming’s body was recovered.
The two had gone to the lake, a short walk from the family’s backyard, many times before, the family told police. But neither knew how to swim. Witnesses say the pair walked around, aiming for a bench near the lake.
“They fed the ducks, and Leila, I guess, she tripped over the edge,” Leila’s cousin, Lourdes, told Miami Herald news partner CBS4. “And Laura tried to save her, but Laura doesn’t know how to swim. So she died trying to save her.”
When police arrived, Andy Castaneda, who lives across the lake, tried to shine a light closer to the search party when he heard the family members screaming.
“We saw a person coming out, basically dead, and they were still underneath trying to find where the baby was at,” Castaneda told CBS4.
On Monday, family members gathered in front of the two-story, white home in the 2200 block of Southwest 164th Avenue that had been decorated with a skeleton and a pumpkin for Halloween.
Some neighbors questioned the amount of time it took for Miramar police to respond. On Monday, Miramar police spokeswoman Tania Rues said the call came in at 11:03 p.m. Police were was working several calls at that time, including a serious motorcycle crash on U.S. 27, so the next available unit was sent, she said. Police arrived at about 11:36 p.m. and the bodies were pulled from the water by 11:48, she said.
The Broward medical examiner’s office determined that both grandmother and child had drowned.
“There were no signs of foul play,” Rues said. “It appears to be a tragic accident.”