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Mallard’s Landing was built in 1988

Had the complex been built after 2012, Abdinasir would have slipped into 6 inches of water.

The 2012 standards say retention ponds must slope to an average depth of a half-foot as far as 8 feet from the water’s edge, or to a maximum depth of 15 inches when 15 feet from the edge. Then, ponds can gently slope to a maximum depth of 12 feet.

“The bank there is steep and very slippery from vegetation,” Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said of the Mallard’s Landing pond. “At about 10 feet from the water’s edge, it drops to about 8 feet. It was enough of a slope that he slid down into about 8 feet deep.”

That’s where firefighters recovered the boy, Martin said.

Abdinasir was walking with a 12-year-old boy when he disappeared into the water. Some callers to 911 said children had been playing in and around the pond.

 “The whole reason (retention ponds are) there is for storm-water management,” said John Ivanic, assistant director for the Columbus Department of Public Utilities. “Not for fishing, not for swimming. They’re not there for recreational activities.”

There are signs prohibiting ice-skating and swimming at the pond, but some residents question why the pond is not fenced to keep children out.

Fencing is not required by law around retention ponds.

Keith Wagenknecht, Columbus’ former chief building official, recalled how years ago his daughter fell into a pond.

“I was there and jumped right in and got her,” said Wagenknecht, who lives in Violet Township and works as a consultant. “If people are going to move into an apartment complex … then watch your kids.”

In February 2016, a judge in Franklin County dismissed the case of a mother who sued the owner of an East Side apartment complex where her 5-year-old son drowned in a retention pond. The judge said her negligence caused the death.

It was unknown whether an adult was watching the children Tuesday evening. Mallard’s Landing officials could not be reached for comment.

Authorities were first notified at 9:31 p.m., when the boy’s mother made a frantic call to 911. At first, the dispatcher had a difficult time understanding the woman. Officials say she is a Somali immigrant.

Twenty seconds later, a neighbor called. She could be heard asking children how long the boy was in the water. “Oh, my God, a half-hour!” the neighbor said.

Abdinasir was pronounced dead at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday.

According to Dispatch archives, 14 other people, 4 to 69 years old, have drowned in retention ponds in Franklin County since 2004. Four were children, including one on a bicycle and another who was riding in a car. Six adult victims had driven vehicles into ponds.

Safety officials urge people to watch their children. “Protecting your child is the most important thing you can do,” Wagenknecht said.

Dispatch reporter Kayla Beard contributed to this story.

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