The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office is investigating the death of a 2-year-old girl found dead at the bottom of a septic tank in the family's backyard early Monday evening.
The girl's mother, Marina Matias, called police at 4:49 p.m. to report her child was missing. Police and emergency service personnel went to the East Spruce Street home and began searching for the little girl, identified as "J.C." Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said.
The mother was inside the house tending to a 2-month-old baby while her four other children played in the backyard, Ford told Patch late Monday night.
"At some point, she couldn't find her 2-year-old," Ford said.
The mother spent about 20 minutes frantically searching for the child, then called police, said Ford.
The search teams found a 3-foot wide hole in the yard, apparently leading to an uncovered septic tank. Lakewood Public Works was called in to pump out the water in the tank, Ford said.
"At approximately 7:30 p.m., the water level had been dropped and police and emergency personnel unfortunately made visual observation of the body of a child in that tank," she said.
Emergency crews were able to remove the child's body from the septic tank at 10:33 p.m., Ford said.
"It was a difficult process to try and bring the body out," she said.
The child was pronounced dead at the scene by the Ocean County Medical Examiner, Ford said.
Ford said it was unclear whether the family knew the hole was in the backyard, or if the uncovered septic tank was operational.
"I don't have the answers," Ford said. "Obviously we haven't been able to interview the family."
The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and the Lakewood Police Department are conducting the investigation, she said.
"We all join in expressing our sympathy to the family of this child," Ford said. "I ask that the media be respectful of their privacy at this time."
Anyone with any information should call Detective Sgt. Carlos Trujillotovar at the Prosecutor's Office at 732-929-2027.