New Orleans detectives are investigating the apparent drowning deaths of two children in Lake Pontchartrain in separate incidents over the weekend.
Both children were swimming in the lake just west of the Seabrook Bridge over the Industrial Canal.
About 5 p.m. Sunday, a 5-year-old boy who was holding on to his aunt’s hand in the lake slipped from her grasp as he tried to go into deeper water, police said. He quickly vanished under the surface as his aunt tried to find him.
Once the child was found, paramedics took him to the hospital, where he died.
Just a day earlier, a 7-year-old girl apparently drowned in nearly the same spot. The girl was swimming in the lake with friends about 4 p.m. Saturday when witnesses reported that the girls began having difficulty. They tried to help the girls to safety, police said, but the 7-year-old was unresponsive. She died at the hospital.
The deaths in both cases are still unclassified. Child abuse detectives are investigating the incidents.
New Orleans Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble said that “depending on the evidence discovered, a parent could be charged with neglect in this type of incident.”
Neither child’s name has been released by the Coroner’s Office, pending autopsies.
The two weekend deaths came on the heels of the July 12 drowning of Adolfo Agu, 29, near the 2200 block of Lakeshore Drive. Agu had been swimming with family and friends when he disappeared in the lake.
At least six people drowned while swimming in the lake from 2011 to 2013.
The nonprofit Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is leading a push to reopen Pontchartrain Beach near the University of New Orleans. The group believes swimmers seeking relief from summer heat will be safer at a roped-in site with a gentle slope into the water, as opposed to the steep drop-offs found at many other spots around the lake’s edge.