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July 28, 2004

Missing boy, 6, found dead in neighbor's pool

From: Atlanta Journal Constitution, GA - Jul 28, 2004

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/28/04

A 6-year-old deaf boy who drowned in a neighbor's swimming pool Wednesday was remembered as an "athletic and adventurous kid."

Ayan Walker was found just before 9 a.m. in the backyard pool of the house owned by Cecil Land on Cindy Drive in Douglasville. The discovery ended a 12-hour search by family, neighbors and law enforcement officials for the boy, who was last seen Tuesday night at the home he shared with his grandparents.

According to family members, Ayan ran away around 7 p.m., was found and brought back home. Around 9 p.m., Ayan ran away again, apparently pushing out a window screen in his room, falling 12 feet into a planter below his bedroom window and then climbing a fence to leave his yard.

The pool at Land's house, about one-third of a mile from Ayan's home, is surrounded by two fences with locked gates that Ayan apparently climbed before entering the pool.

The boy is believed to have drowned and no foul play is suspected, said Douglasville police Capt. Oliver Fladrich.

Jacqui Ryder, the boy's great-aunt, remembered Ayan as an "athletic and adventurous kid. He could climb any of these trees," she said, waving her hand toward a small grove of hardwood trees in the side yard.

According to Karen Bennett, Land's daughter, the pool had been occupied by several family members only hours before Ayan's disappearance.

"We were here [Tuesday], swimming until about 7 p.m.," she said.

Bennett said her father was preparing breakfast Wednesday morning when a police officer knocked on the front door, asking if he could search the yard.

"Then my father saw the officer jump the fence and then jump in the water," Bennett said.

© 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution