Young girl found dead in flooded hole in Fruitland Park backyard

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FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. - Channel 9 learned Wednesday a young girl was found dead inside a hole that sits above a septic tank in Fruitland Park.

The accident happened Wednesday afternoon at a residence on Jewell Street.

Officers said three toddlers were in the backyard playing as several families were helping the homeowner move. A short time later, relatives noticed one of them had gone missing, so they called 911.

When police arrived on the scene, they found what looked like a puddle of water in the backyard.

"It was the hole to a septic tank.  After we discovered that, we called in people.  A search was conducted in the tank and the child was found inside the tank," said Fruitland Park Police Chief Terry Isaacs.

The slab that normally covers the hole to the septic tank wasn't there and police are trying to find out why.

Police said the opening to the septic tank was barely 10 inches by 14 inches, but it was large enough for a toddler to fall into.

The unidentified owner told Channel 9 the victim was his daughter's best friend.

Neighbors said the missing slab was an accident waiting to happen.

"It has been off for months," said neighbor Mark Whales. "He drove a truck over it last summer.  Been complaining about it ever since, and nothing was ever done."

"At this point, we're not going to discuss (charges)," said Isaacs. "I don't know.  We're putting together the facts.  Once we get everything together, we'll review it and sit down with the state attorney and move from there."

The name of the child has not yet been released.