RENTON, Wash. - Jansy Peternell says she followed her mother’s intuition when she walked outside to check on her children, and saw two neighbor kids drowning in the retention pond across the street.
“I just had a feeling I should check the pond,” says the mother of two. “I was just hoping that they would be alive.”
Peternell, just 5-foot-3 inches tall, jumped in the 5-foot-deep pond and pulled an unconscious 5-year-old girl out from under the water. The girl’s 9-year-old brother had been trying to save her and was going under as well.
“It was surreal. What was strange is that children don’t always make noise when they’re drowning. There were no cries for help. it was just dead silent. Like slow motion," said Peternell.
The retention pond in the Renton subdivision has no fence and abuts a playground. In this case, witnesses say, the little girl went into the water to retrieve a ball that had fallen in. The girl, who reportedly cannot swim, was over her head in a matter of seconds.
Peternell says neighbors asked King County for a fence years ago, but the county refused, saying the grade of the pond wasn’t steep enough to warrant one. Now, the City of Renton has jurisdiction over the pond.
Peternell says she called the city after Thursday’s incident, asking, again, for a fence. She says she was told it isn’t in the city’s budget, and that Renton is only putting up fences around ponds in new developments.
The mother of two says the situation is a tragedy waiting to happen.
“Something terrible will happen here. If I came out a minute later it could’ve been much worse of an outcome. It was pure luck that I happened to go out," she said.