MERCED — A 4-year-old girl who drowned in a hot tub recently will be remembered this weekend by her friends and family members.
Merced police say Jaylin Riana Shepherd accidentally drowned Friday at a residence in the 1200 block of Paso Redondo Drive. Family members believe the child fell into the hot tub.
Flip Hassett, the child's grandfather, said his family was gathered in the backyard to celebrate his mother's birthday. Hassett said the incident happened very quickly. Family members noticed the child wasn't around. They looked in the hot tub and found her under the water.
The child was pulled out of the water and 911 was called immediately.
Officers responded to the scene at 4:15 p.m. Medical personnel attempted to resuscitate the girl. She was taken to Mercy Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Lt. Tom Trindad said a preliminary investigation determined there was no evidence of criminal negligence, and police are calling the death a tragic accident.
Hassett said his family is devastated by the death. "She was probably the most complete soul I've ever seen. Joyous, loving and embraced everybody. Her candle just burned so bright," Hassett said.
According to the child's obituary, she attended Central Presbyterian Church and preschool at Aileen Colburn Elementary. She enjoyed sports, cards, using the iPad and computer learning games.
Her viewing and visitation will be held 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. today at Stratford Evans Funeral Home, at 1490 B St. in Merced. A celebration of her life will be held 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the home of Curtis and Gaye Riggs, 2870 Rambler Lane in Merced.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the "Swim for Jaylin Shepherd" Memorial Fund, to support summer swimming and safety programs in Merced. Checks can be made to the United Way of Merced County, with "Swim for Jaylin Shepherd" on the memo line.