6-Year-Old Girl Drowns in Neighbor's Pool After Stacking Chairs to Climb Over Locked Gate, Police Say

·2 min read
Namyah Judge
Namyah Judge

GoFundMe Za’myah Judge

A 6-year-old girl drowned in her neighbor's pool, which North Carolina detectives believe she accessed after climbing over a locked gate.

Za'myah Judge died Saturday after entering the above-ground pool in her neighbor's backyard on S. Emerson Street, according to a news release from the Gastonia Police Department.

Detectives believe Za'myah accessed the pool after stacking "several chairs against her next-door neighbor's locked pool gate," which she then "climbed over" before entering the water.

Police say her younger brother told investigators that he saw his sister enter the water and "that he ran for help after he did not see her re-surface."

First responders transported Judge to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

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Christian Cash, identified by ABC affiliate WSOC-TV and the Gaston Gazette as Za'myah's mom, said that she last saw her daughter earlier that afternoon, as the young girl finished eating lunch at their home.

After Judge finished her meal, Cash recalled her daughter saying "I love you" while heading for her bedroom, she told WSOC-TV in an interview.

Cash said that she did not know her children had left the house until her 5-year-old son returned home to tell her what had happened.

"They had snuck out," Cash told the Gaston Gazette. "The whole time I'm thinking she's in her bedroom, they're outside."

Cash did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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Police said family members pulled the girl out of the pool "and attempted life-saving measures" shortly before first responders arrived at the scene around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

First responders took over life-saving measures and took her to the hospital, but she did not survive.

An investigation into the girl's death is ongoing. Neither foul play nor neglect is suspected in connection to the incident, Gastonia Police Department spokesman Rick Goodale told the Gaston Gazette.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family.

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Cash told WSOC-TV that when her son ran in to tell her what had happened, she was cleaning their home and preparing to take her children to a community pool.

"She still had her whole life ahead of her, she was 6 years old, she was pure, she was innocent," she told the outlet. "No one will ever take her place and life will never be the same without her."