‘I could tell she was gone’: Family devastated after 1-year-old North Carolina girl drowns in Horry County pond

Grand Strand

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — A family is devastated after 23-month-old Gianna Dawkins drowned Saturday in an Horry County pond.

Dawkins’ mother, Bria Jackson, spoke to News13 and said the day started as a normal day before they believe Dawkins walked to an embankment and slipped and fell into a pond near a home they were visiting on Cheyenne Road in the Conway area.

She loved to dance, and that smile — infectious. That’s how Jackson wants her daughter to be remembered. They were visiting family in the Conway area from Fayetteville, North Carolina after another death, and had been thinking of heading to the beach.

“We were all kind of like came together at once and were kind of like you know it’s quiet, where’s Gianna?” Jackson said.

That’s when a family member looked in the pond that was near the Conway-area home.

“She lets out a scream,” Jackson said. “And her dad, he was running and he tripped and fell, got back up, and ran into the water and pulled her out.”

“I could tell the feel of her skin, the color of her lips — I could tell she was gone,” Jackson said.

The Horry County Coroner’s Office said Dawkins was pronounced dead from asphyxiation from drowning at the scene.

“She was very tall and very fast and I was just distracted trying to change a diaper,” Jackson said.

On a bus to a funeral home, Jackson showed News13 the keepsakes she had on her.

“Sunglasses, I have her [pacifier], and this prayer shawl I got in the hospital when they told me she passed,” Jackson said.

Jackson is relying on family to get her through.

“Someone couldn’t help but stop and talk to her, she would just smile,” she said. “She had the craziest longest eyelashes and the biggest brown eyes I’ve ever seen.”

“I know my daughter isn’t in pain and I know my daughter is in heaven,” Jackson said. “I have these moments where I miss her and it’s a feeling I can’t describe. It’s like a longing to want somebody so bad and you can’t have them.”

Mikayla Moskov with the Horry County Police Department said the drowning has been ruled accidental.

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