STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- A three-year-old girl found floating in a neighbor’s backyard pool has died. Police believe the girl slipped away from her home and was running around her neighborhood as witnesses tried unsuccessfully to catch her.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner confirmed that Aria Kalinich was pronounced dead at Southwest General Hospital.
"She's running down the sidewalk, no shoes, she had a little onesie on, a diaper, so I knew she was young," said a witness, who did not want to be identified.
She says, just before 1:00 p.m. Thursday, she was running errands near Cook Avenue and Pearl Road in Strongsville, when she saw the three-year-old running up and down the sidewalk alone.
"It's very upsetting because there was no adult around, anywhere," she said.
The woman pulled into a Rite Aid parking lot.
"I got out of my car, by that time she was in the middle of Cook Road. You can see it's a very busy street…She finally came across the street, ran down the sidewalk," said the witness.
The woman says she kept trying to talk to the little girl and saw her run to a house on the street.
She then called police.
"I came around this brick corner here and I saw that, the lady's like 'Can you still see her?' I'm like 'No, I don't want to get too close to her because she's afraid of me', so at that point, I walked back around and she was gone," she recalled.
Strongsville police searched about 30 minutes, until they discovered the girl in a neighbor's 4 1/2 foot deep backyard pool, just a few doors down from where she lived.
According to a police call log, the girl's mother had gone to a nearby McDonald's to make a phone call, while her daughter slept.
An older brother told police his sister may have climbed out of a window.
Neighbors say the child is able to climb fences and several say they've seen her wandering the neighborhood alone before.
"She'd be way back there, and so that's not the first time I've seen the little girl," said neighbor Sheryl Clark.
"I just wish I had done more, I wish I had gone after her, but in this day and age with child abductions, you just don't know what people are gonna say what you're doing," said the witness.
Strongsville police say they are still investigating the incident.