JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- A 7-year-old girl with autism is back with her parents Friday after somehow getting out of her hotel room.
A call came in to the Jacksonville Beach Police Department around 5 a.m. reporting a child swimming in a retention pond near the Edwin Watts Golf store in the South Beach Regional shopping center, according to Sgt. Evans with the Jacksonville Beach Police Department.
A Home Depot employee saw the girl running across the parking lot to the pond. The night manager, Mark Ficklin, tried to yell at her to get out of the pond but she didn't answer. Once he showed her his phone, she got out and came to him.
The girl showed no signs of distress or injury when officers responded to her.
Her family is staying at the Hampton Inn on the south side of J. Turner Butler Boulevard. It's still unclear the path she took to the pond on the north side of JTB.
First Coast News spoke with the girl's father. He says she's doing just fine.
"She's been really chipper, she's been happy, she's been joyful, there's been no signs. Honestly, to her, I don't think it was a trauma. I think it was a bit of a fun expedition this morning. She got to go swimming. Which was a big surprise to us. We took her in the pool yesterday and she wasn't swimming. And the police told us she was actually swimming so we didn't know she could swim," said Marc Harris.
She does have autism. Her dad says she only can communicate between 10-12 words.
Her family is just moving here from Virginia Beach, Virginia and is staying at the hotel until they move in to their new house Saturday.
First Coast News