North Port toddler found in ‘fast-moving canal’ has died

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Missing 20-month-old Ava Natalia Perry was found in a canal near her family’s home and rushed to the hospital.

After a large search for a missing 20-month-old girl, North Port authorities located her in a canal near the home, and rushed her to the hospital where she died.

Ava Natalia Perry went missing from her home in the 8500 block of Alam Avenue off of South Biscayne Drive around 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. She was found a half-mile away after possibly falling into a canal behind the home.

Neighbors were alerted to baby Ava’s disappearance.

“(There was) pounding on my front door by North Port PD asking if I had noticed a 2-year-old, he said 2-year-old running around,” said Heather Osborne.

Neighbors jumped into action prior to the arrival of law enforcement.

“In this community everybody dropped everything we did,” said Jamie Pratt. “I mean I’m sitting outside filling out paperwork, people were cleaning their houses, and as soon as we heard, we just dropped everything, and we just went out and came out together.”

More than 30 officers from different agencies including aviation, divers and all available resources were deployed to locate the missing girl.

Police say Ava’s 3-year-old sibling was in the backyard with her, which backed a canal with no fence, when she disappeared. The sibling was pointing to the canal calling Ava’s name.

“A slightly older sibling, maybe (3 years old) was pointing toward the canal,” said North Port Police Department officer Gary Arsenault. “That’s what gave us the direction on where to look.”

An officer jumped into the canal to pull baby Ava out.

“It’s extremely sad from what I’m aware of. The dad works late shift and he dosed off a little bit,” Osborne said. “I know he’s blaming himself, I’m sure. I cant imagine what he’s going through.”

Now a heartbroken community is sending their condolences to the family.

“Nobody ever wants this to happen to their child no matter what the circumstance is,” Pratt said. “So I just pray for the family for them to have healing, for God to be with them and to keep them close in their hearts and help them through this.”

Police are still calling the incident an “extremely active investigation”.

North Port authorities said Wednesday morning that they are investigating the incident as a “tragic accident.”

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