Greencastle toddler dies in drowning
By ADAM COATES, Assistant Editor
A 2-year-old Greencastle girl, who witnesses say was found by her grandmother floating in a backyard swimming pool Tuesday afternoon, has died.
The Marion County Coroner's office performed an autopsy on the body of Serinity L. Hammer earlier today and determined the cause of death was drowning. She died Wednesday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Neighbors living near 932 Golden Court, where the drowning took place shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, heard screaming from behind the home and rushed to help.
Justin Homler lives next door and was alerted from sleep, thinking the screams might be coming from his own small children, a 2-year-old son and 9-month-old daughter.
Homler told the BannerGraphic that he ran outside to find his sister, who was baby-sitting his children that afternoon, trying to climb the fence of his next-door neighbors.
Once Homler gained entry into the fence, he rushed to the unconscious girl who was being cradled by her grandmother Beverly Lawler. The girl, according to the coroner's report, was the granddaughter of Lawler and her husband Jeff.
The Lawler's were the legal guardians of the girl, according to the coroner's report.
Homler, an EMT, said he tried for about five minutes to revive the girl with CPR, but to no avail. His friend, Jeret Query, who lives nearby, also tried to help until an ambulance from Operation Life arrived on the scene. The girl was initially taken to Putnam County Hospital and later airlifted to Methodist.
Homler said Thursday morning that the grandmother told him she had stepped inside the house to get a diaper, leaving the girl outside, and that when she returned, the girl was floating in the pool.
"I heard her say she went in for a fresh diaper and was in for two minutes," Homler said of the grandmother.
The coroner's report said the pool was 3 1/2 feet deep. Homler said it was an inflatable pool with a ladder going up the side.
The drowning was especially difficult for Homler, who said his 2-year-old son and the little girl would talk to each other through the fence from time to time.
Funeral arrangements for Serinity were not available Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the Greencastle Police Department is investigating the death as they do with all cases involving injury or death to a child.
Det. Randy Seipel told the BannerGraphic he is investigating it as a case of accidental death. He said he spoke with the grandmother but could not release the details of that conversation at this time. He was enroute Thursday morning to Indianapolis to review the autopsy.