‘A Miracle’: Missouri Man Tries to Drown Baby, but She Survives

December 19, 2018 Updated: December 19, 2018

A Missouri man was arrested after walking to a police station and confessing that he watched his daughter sink in a pond after allegedly trying to drown her.

Jonathon Zicarelli, 28, allegedly admitted that the baby was in an icy pond near Doc Henry Road in Greenwood, Missouri, reported the Kansas City Star on Dec. 18.

Officials said they discovered the child on her back and they thought she was a “porcelain doll.”

“There was no emotion whatsoever,” Greenwood police spokesman Aaron Fordham said of Zicarelli’s demeanor.

That’s when Police Chief Greg Hallgrimson and Cpl. Tom Calhoun rushed to the pond “in a reactionary state,” said Fordham to the Star.

Calhoun waded into thigh-deep water in his police uniform, vest, and boots to get the child.

He said the child’s skin had a lifeless color and she had mud in her eyes along with grass and water in her mouth. Police had estimated the girl was in the water for 10 minutes or longer.

Calhoun rushed the girl to the bank of the pond and cleared her lungs before performing CPR, the Star reported. In a few moments, the child started breathing, Fordham said.

“There was absolutely someone watching over that child today,” he said.

Calhoun and Hallgrimson removed the child’s wet clothing and wrapped her in the chief’s shirt to keep the baby warm. Then, first responders arrived to rush her to a hospital.

Later, hospital officials said the girl was in good condition and was stable with her condition improving, the Star reported. “The news came down through the chain and there was a huge sigh of relief,” Fordham said.

road in missouri
A Google Street View photo shows the neighborhood where the incident took place in Greenwood, Missouri. (Google Street View)

Zicarelli was charged with first-degree domestic assault, the Star reported. It’s not clear if he will face more serious charges.

Zicarelli allegedly told investigators he wanted to kill his daughter for the past day due to “bad thoughts,” saying he was stressed during the holidays and wanted to make things easier for his wife.

The man said he went to the water three times to make sure it was possible to sink the child beneath the surface. Then he went to the police department to confess.


Fordham described the incident as “a miracle.”

Court records said that when the child was found, her body temperature was 87.9 degrees Fahrenheit, Fox4 reported, and the normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, although it’s slightly lower for infants.

Pietra Carrell, manager at swimming instruction center Aqua Tots, told Fox4 that babies, even as young as 6 months, have swimming and survival instincts.

“Perhaps a child would automatically do that, but I wouldn’t want to risk it. I would want to make sure that I had seen them before rolling over to their back and make sure they had all over their skills.” Carrell said.

She said parents and instructors don’t take their hands off children while they’re in the water.

“For infants under a year, it’s a natural reaction when certain things happen. You can trickle water on their face, lift and lower rapidly. So when you are able to submerge the child, they get used to that. And as they get older, it becomes just a natural reflex,” Carrell added.