Family of girl who drowned describes 4-year-old as ‘light of their lives’

4-year-old who drowned was 'bright light'

DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio (FOX19) - The family of a little girl who drowned in a swimming pool in Delhi Township is honoring her by sharing memories and warning other parents to be cautious at all times.

Relatives of 4-year-old Jaycie Rouse described her as a shining star. Her mother said she was small in stature, but big in personality.

“Very outgoing. Very lovable. She was just the light of our lives," said Stephanie Rouse, Jaycie’s mother.

Jaycie was one of Stephanie and Jason Rouse’s six children. Jaycie’s mother says she was a huge part of the family and adored her twin brothers and three sisters.

“She’d just smile at you, and you’d melt," she said.

Jaycie’s parents are no strangers to tragedy. Their daughter Mady fought, and survived, Leukemia. Now, they are again dealing with devastation. Jaycie died on Sunday while they were at a 5-year-old’s birthday party in Delhi Township.

“I would do anything in the world to get her back. Anything," said Jacquelyn Dove, a cousin. “It was purely just a tragic accident that never should’ve happened.”

Stephanie Rouse said they have been to the home where it happened many times. Jaycie was swimming on Sunday night, when the event started to wrap up. According to her mother, Jaycie got out of the pool to go to the bathroom -- and then she disappeared. When no one was able to find her in the backyard, in the nearby woods, or in the water they called 911.

Neighbors and first responders, Stephanie Rouse said, searched and searched until they made a heartbreaking discovery. Jaycie, officials said, had drowned in the pool.

“At some point she must’ve gotten back in the pool and didn’t realize that she didn’t have her swimmy on," said Stephanie. "Nobody heard her scream or cry. No splashing, no nothing, and it happened quick, and there were plenty of people around.”

Though Stephanie Rouse is deep in grief, she said she is sharing Jaycie’s story because she is hoping it will help others. She wants other parents to know that an accident can happen in an instant, and it can happen anytime.

“Just pay attention to your surroundings. I know how easy it happens. An extra eye, or I don’t know, I don’t know what the answers are," she said. "I just hope that this doesn’t happen to anyone else because it’s gut-wrenching, because I would give anything in the world to take it all back.”

There is a GoFundMe page in place that is raising money for the family, specifically for funeral expenses. More than $20,000 has been brought in so far.

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