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Parents of child found naked in Jacksonville Beach retention pond have been found

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Updated: 7/12/2013 6:36 pm
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- A young girl found swimming naked in a retention pond with alligators Friday morning has been reunited with her parents.

It all started around 5 a.m. when a Home Depot worker noticed the naked child playing in a retention pond near JTB and 3rd Street.

The girl was staying at the Hampton Inn nearby with her parents. When they woke up and realized their daughter was gone, they called police. 

Mark Ficklin said he found the girl and sat with her until police arrived.

"I know there's an alligator in there," said Ficklin.  "I showed her my phone and I was taking pictures with the little flash, it kind of caught her. So she could come up, coaxer her up a little bit then I held it out in front of her.  I had my daughter up there and that's what got her more out of the water, and then she'd just dart off some more. I'd chase her down. I'd flash my phone at her again until she stopped, she'd dart off again.  She's a little speedy Gonzalez, she'd just take off, even the cops had to chase her one time."

The Home Depot worker said the girl sat calmly in the back of the police car where she was given chips and water.

"Mostly with my phone I kept her happy.  She was looking at Goofy, Snow White, she was looking at pictures of my daughter getting her face painted."

Once the little girl was safe with police the "desperate" search for her parents began.

Officers knocked on doors near the pond and ended up at the Hampton Inn.

Jacksonville Beach Police Sgt. Crumley said the search didn't last long. The parents contacted police about 3 hours later.

"As soon as they woke up and realized the little girl was missing, they immediately called 911," said Crumley.  "It could've been much worse."

The parents and the girl were reunited at the Jacksonville Beach Police Station.

"This is one of those that you actually feel good about. Where it was a successful reunion of the parents and the child and it had the best result," Crumley said.

Jacksonville Beach Police tell Action News the girl has a learning disability. The parents are not facing any charges.

The family is from Virginia.

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