Toddler drowned in backyard pool; prosecutor reviewing possible neglect charges

Toddler drowned in backyard pool; prosecutor reviewing possible neglect charges.

The above ground pool behind an Allegan home was installed just a few days before a toddler drowned in the backyard pool

Allegan County Deputies are investigating the death of a 3-year-old boy, who drowned in a backyard pool June 7.

According to investigators, two adults were at the Allegan home with five young children, ranging in age from one to eight, at the time of the drowning.

Investigators said it's still unclear who was directly responsible for watching the children.

“It's been impossible, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy,” said Bob Brenner.

He installed the above ground pool in his backyard just days before the drowning. Brenner put the ladder at the bottom of the pool so his grand kids would have to get an adult to get in the water.

“Being a 3-year-old, energetic, he found his way in with no ladders or nothing,” Brenner said.

He believes Brayden climbed up the side of the above ground pool and fell in.

“It’s something that they call a ‘freak accident,’ I’d do anything to bring him back,” Brenner said.

He and his wife, along with the boy’s parents, were not at home when the toddler drowned.

Russel Brenner, 17, and his older brother were at home with their young cousins.

“He couldn’t wait for mommy and daddy to get home,” said Russel.

He said put Brayden in timeout, then went back to doing yard work,

“He’s been known to get out of time out time and time again, but I didn’t think about it then,” Russel said.

Although not related by blood, Bob said, Brayden called him grandpa. Brenner’s son is engaged to marry Brayden’s mom; she, her five children, and finance were living at Brenner’s home off 125th Avenue in Allegan at the time of the drowning, but have since moved out.

Allegan County Undersheriff Mike Larsen said it's possible one of Brayden’s older and stronger siblings moved another ladder from the yard close to the edge of the pool.

Larsen says Brayden's 7-year-old sister found him face down in the water Thursday, June 7.

“While she was screaming for help one of the other children saw what was going on and ran and got one of the adults,” Larsen explained.

Russel and his brother, 26, who was also at home at the time, could face child neglects charges in Brayden’s death.

“I broke down because Brayden brought a lot of joy to everybody here,” Russel said.

According to the GoFundMe page setup to help with funeral costs, Brayden was underwater for about 45 minutes. Declared brain dead, the 3-year-old was taken off life support on Friday, June 8, the day after he went into the water.

The investigation by the sheriff’s office is now in the hands of the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if any charges will be filed.

“There’s nothing anybody can do but I wish with all my heart I could,” Brenner said, “I’d do anything to bring him back.”

Larsen said deputies also brought in Child Protective Services to investigate because of the living conditions at the home.

“Not the cleanest environment that young children should be raised in,” Larsen said.

As soon as the CPS report is completed, the prosecutor’s office is expected to make a decision on possible neglect charges.

Investigators say this tragedy should be a lesson to all homeowners to make sure that there is absolutely no way child can get into a pool without adult supervision.

Larsen recommends a cover that is only removed when the pool is in use and adults are present.

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