2 brothers drown at Hobart, Ind., excavation site

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A pair of brothers from Gary, Indiana drowned Saturday night just blocks away from their home, leaving their mother heartbroken and looking for answers. (WLS)

A mother is in mourning after losing two sons - Terrion and Donel Smith - after they drowned in a pit full of water near their northwest Indiana home.

There are a lot of questions about why that excavation site wasn't better secured.

The brothers drowned Saturday night in Hobart, just blocks away from their home.

That pit is about 20 feet deep, and it's located in a residential neighborhood with no fence around it. Sunday night, Hobart's mayor promised to look into the matter.

It's been a day of anguish for the family of Donel and Terrion Smith.

"We don't understand what's going on. We just want them back," said Shaniqua Galloway, the victims' aunt.

It was around 7 p.m. Saturday when relatives say the two brothers, ages 8 and 9, drowned while playing with other kids at an excavation site that officials say had filled with 20 feet of rain water on a residential block in Hobart.

"I've got to bury two kids, not one but two. They're my babies," said the victims' mother, Tatiana Smith.

Chris Lerose and Anthony Radusin say they got in the pit and tried to save the boys.

"I let one of them jump on my back, and the other one jumped on my back. And they would take me under, so I had to let go," Radusin said.

"We almost had them, but then one of them grabbed one of them because he was under water a little and pushed him under water," said Lerose.

Donel and Terrion were rushed to St. Mary Hospital, where they died.

On Sunday, signs and a rope mark the spot where the accident happened.

"They put them up this morning, early (Sunday) morning. And the rope that connects the two trees to keep anyone from driving in there was put up this morning, too," said Hobart resident Christine Carpenter.

Neighbors say the pit, which is on private property, is used to make sand. Retired construction engineer Ed Felty lives on the block and says for months he's complained to the city about the lack of a fence and the steep angle of the pit.

"It's a death trap," Felty said. "A full-grown adult could have fallen in there and not been able to get out."

"Certainly I will be getting with our building official in the morning to find out what the city is aware of in regards to that property," said Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor.

The property owner has not been identified, and the mayor did not have that information. Late Sunday night, there was still no fencing around the site.


There have been several other drownings over the weekend involving children.

In southwest suburban Morris, a 3-year-old girl drowned, possibly in a backyard swimming pool. Police are still investigating.

And on Saturday, a 4-year-old boy drowned at the Royal Fox Country Club in west suburban St. Charles. Police have not released details surrounding that incident. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

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