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RV park neighbors grieve toddler's death

Posted at 7:15 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 20:39:43-05

ARANSAS COUNTY, Texas — Residents at the Paradise Lagoons RV Resort in Aransas County remain visibly shaken by the death of a 2-year-old girl Wednesday night.

Charleigh Nicole Nelson died in Aransas County after falling 15 feet into a septic tank. She had just turned two.

One neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said he was outside when he heard a woman screaming.

He said he ran over, and Charleigh's parents were pleading for help.

"(Ethan Nelson) was hollering 'My baby! My baby!" the neighbor said about Charleigh's dad.

He said three other men lowered him into the hole with a ratchet strap attached to his leg, but he wasn't able to reach her.

"That baby girl deserved every chance at life," the neighbor said.

Resident Everett West said immediately after Charleigh fell into the septic tank, everyone was doing what they could, desperate to save her.

"When I first went over there, there were people with shovels trying to dig to get to her," West said. "And then emergency people showed up within a very short period of time. Within one hour, it's pretty unbelievable how many people showed up to help."

The Rockport Volunteer Fire Department said emergency crews were dispatched to Paradise Lagoons at around 5:30 p.m. An hour later, Charleigh's body was pulled out by an Ingleside Fire and Rescue Team member.

"It was small in diameter, and there was a pipe down at the bottom running across," West said. "I didn't go to look at the other one where the girl was. I just didn't want to look."

Charleigh was in town with her mother and siblings to visit her father, who works in the area. The family originally is from Alabama.

They told KRIS 6 News their priority, now, is to take Charleigh back home.

A man named Dean, another resident at the RV park, said he did not know the family but had seen them around as he barbecued nearby the night before, and as they would walk over to fish.

"It's a tragedy, you know," he said.

Some residents whose doors we knocked on said they weren't ready to talk about what happened, especially those who said they have children the same ages as Charleigh. But all the residents said they are mourning alongside the Nelson family.

"Oh my god my heart is with them," West said. "I pray for them. It's unimaginable trying to even think about losing a child that way. And what they're going through."