Fayette County

Drowned boy was 'escape artist'

The grandfather of the 3-year-old boy who drowned in a pool said Friday that the child had an ability to slip off quickly and quietly.

On Thursday Tyler Ragsdale was staying with his maternal grandparents, John and Kimberly Hamilton, at their home at 649 Wilderness Road home while Tyler's mother, Elizabeth Hamilton, was at work.

"He was known at preschool as an escape artist. He's so quiet because he doesn't talk," John Hamilton said. "He just managed to get the front door open ... and he's so quick and quiet, he was out the door and gone."

Police were called at 6:20 p.m. and searched the neighborhood with a canine unit and a helicopter, said Lexington police spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Gutierrez. The Lexington Fire Department was called to assist the search, and a firefighter found the boy unconscious in an above-ground pool in a next-door neighbor's house.

"He was cold and white by the time they found him," Hamilton said. The boy was pronounced dead at 7:13 p.m. Thursday at University of Kentucky Hospital.

The death is being investigated as accidental, according to the Fayette County coroner's office.

The neighbor's pool was surrounded by a privacy fence, and some of the planks were missing, police had said. The Lexington Division of Code Enforcement will send a letter that asks the property owner to repair the fence, said Roger Crace, housing supervisor with the division.

No fine will be imposed unless the property owner refuses to fix the fence, Crace said.

State law exempts above-ground pools from fence requirements, said Dewey Crowe, director of Lexington's Division of Building Inspection.

Tyler was the son of Elizabeth Hamilton and James Ragsdale. They have a daughter, Alice, who just turned 1.

Police had described Tyler as a "special needs" child. John Hamilton said his grandson had some speech problems.

"He had started saying a few words at the normal time for little boys, and then all of a sudden he just started backing off his speech," John Hamilton said. "And then it got to where he just didn't speak at all, but he could tell us so much without words."

Tyler's mother had recently arranged for him to go to a speech diagnostic center in Louisville. "And she was getting more speech therapy for him," John Hamilton said.

Aside from his speech, Tyler had no other developmental disabilities.

"Otherwise, he was bright and curious about everything and adventurous," John Hamilton said. "The word autism came up during some of the sessions we had with people, but there wasn't anything like that. Except for not talking, he was pretty much a normal 3-year-old boy.

"There was so much he was going to teach me," he said through sobs. "You're not supposed to outlive your grandchildren."