Officials have determined that electricity did not play a role in the deaths of three New Jersey family members, including a child, who drowned in a backyard swimming pool on Monday.
Although an investigation is ongoing into what happened, the Middlesex County prosecutor's office and the chief of police said the deaths were accidental. The medical examiner ruled Tuesday determined that all three died of accidental drowning.
Police responded to a call from neighbors around 4:15 p.m. regarding a possible fall victim after screaming was heard, but when officers arrived they found three individuals unresponsive in a pool on Clearview Road in East Brunswick.
All three victims — an 8-year-old girl, her 33-year-old mother and a 56-year-old male family member, according to East Brunswick police — were pronounced dead shortly after being found in the above-ground pool.
A source told NBC New York that the young girl stepped into a six- or seven-foot deep underground section of the above-ground pool, and an aunt watching her called for help, which police believe may have been what the neighbors heard. The grandfather then jumped in to help, but had trouble as he didn't know how to swim, the source said.
As the aunt continues calling for help, the girl's mother jumps in to try and save both her daughter and the man, the source told News 4, but she also didn't know how to swim and struggled. The aunt who had been trying to get help went in after and was able to reach the child, but not before the young girl drowned.
"This is a devastating day for our entire community," Brunswick Police Chief Frank Losacco said. "We are working with the Middlesex County Prosecutors office and will release information as it develops."
On Tuesday, the county prosecutor and police chief identified the man as Bharat Patel and his daughter-in-law Nisha Patel. Her daughter's name was not released by officials, but neighbors identified her as Sacchi Patel.
Neighbors said the family had just moved into the home this past month, the first house they had purchased after living in South Brunswick. A neighbor who talked with the grandfather before the deadly incident said that they recently had the pool fixed, and it may have been getting its first use by the family.