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18-month-old boy drowns in pool near McSwain

An 18-month-old Merced County boy drowned while in the care of his 65-year-old grandfather, deputies said.

It was the second death in the family in less than a week.

The drowning happened Sunday at around 8:30 p.m. when Damian Gonzalez fell into a pool, said Deputy Tom MacKenzie, spokesman for the Merced County Sheriff's Department. The boy was taken to Mercy Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The boy had been in the water for about 10 minutes, MacKenzie said.

The child's parents had dropped him off at his grandfather's house in the 2000 block of West Highway 140. MacKenzie said several other children were at the house.

It's believed that the other children went into the pool and forgot to lock the gate. Damian wandered out into the pool area and fell into the pool, MacKenzie said. Attempts to save him were made.

Neighbors said they recall hearing a lot of children in the pool the night of the tragedy.

The grandfather is on medical marijuana, and marijuana plants were found at the scene, MacKenzie said.

A family relative, who asked not to be identified because the relative wasn't authorized to speak for the family, said the boy's parents had left him at his grandfather's house while they went to a rosary in Visalia for Damian's father's cousin who had committed suicide last Monday.

The relative said the cousin killed his 26-year-old partner and then committed suicide.

Kathryn Bradshaw and Isaias Corona, 40, were found dead morning the morning of July 25 in a single-story house in the 6300 block of West Thompson Avenue, according to the Visalia Times-Delta. Visalia police Sgt. Gary Williams told the newspaper that it appeared that Corona shot Bradshaw once with a shotgun and then turned the weapon on himself.

The relative said it has been tough on the family since they've never dealt with two family deaths so close together. "Everyone is grieving," the relative said. "Everyone is just coming together."

The relative said Damian was the couple's only son. The boy's father has a daughter with another woman. "It's really hard for them," the relative said. "They are just really distraught."

Damian was among eight children who were at the house the night of the drowning, including his 13-year-old uncle, who got him out of the pool, the relative said. All the other children were under 13.

The relative said the parents are trying to determine funeral arrangements, which will probably take place in Gustine this week. The parents might have Damian's graveside services in Zacatecas, Mexico.

No one is being charged as it's believed the drowning was accidental, MacKenzie said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or