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Toddler pulled unconscious from Lawrenceville pond

LAWRENCEVILLE - A 21-month-old boy remained hospitalized in Atlanta late Monday after nearly drowning in a Lawrenceville pond.

The toddler was airlifted to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite where he was breathing but unconscious six hours after the 11 a.m. incident, police said. Police withheld the child's name.

Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said the child's grandmother, Rena Tarbutton, was acting as caretaker for eight children Monday, including the infant, who was the youngest of the bunch. The children, who are home-schooled, cleaned out a vehicle from a weekend trip while the infant played around them, Spellman said.

When Tarbutton called the children inside the Billy McGee Road home, she noticed the youngest was missing. She sent the others to search nearby woods while she checked the pond, where she found the child floating.

"The grandmother jumped in and immediately started doing CPR," Spellman said.

The child was unconscious and not breathing when the Fire Department arrived, said Gwinnett fire spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge. Crews resuscitated the child during an ambulance transport to Gwinnett Medical Center. Rutledge said he was unsure how long the child had been in the water.

The split-level home where the children were playing sits about 300 feet from the heavily wooded pond. The home is at the end of a gravel road branching off Billy McGee Road in Lawrenceville, near Sweetgum Road.

Spellman said no criminal charges were filed against Tarbutton on Monday.

Crime scene investigators purveyed the scene, but Spellman called their presence strictly procedural.

Spellman was unsure if the Tarbutton family owned the pond. The child's mother typically leaves her son with Tarbutton a couple days a week, she said.

"Everyone's really distraught," Spellman said of the family. "In this particular situation, it's definitely a strain."