Published January 08, 2015
A 2-year-old girl who wandered away from a holiday-weekend family barbecue in a city park was found dead in a lake after a desperate five-hour search by police and bystanders.
New York Police Department divers pulled Ruhshona Kurbonova's body from the murky water in Prospect Park on Saturday evening. Her cause of death wasn't immediately available Sunday.
Ruhshona's family, emigrants from Uzbekistan, had been grilling kabobs when she and a preschool-age boy relative slipped away, her uncle Dekzod Isokov told the New York Post.
"They walked off, and we didn't know," he said. The boy was later found soaked, but safe, in bushes and woods near the lake.
Officers combed the 585-acre park from bicycles and helicopters and underwater as parkgoers lent what help they could.
"My whole church family was looking for this baby, and we were praying out here," Shavonne Dillard, who was picnicking with members of her Pentecostal congregation, told reporters.
Ruhshona's 37-year-old mother paced by the lake as the search progressed, Dillard said.
"She was frantic," Dillard said.
Witnesses said Ruhshona's mother screamed and collapsed after hearing the news of her daughter's death. She was taken to a hospital for evaluation and was later released.
The family immigrated to the U.S. in 2010, the girl's uncle said; her father drives a taxi. The parents are hardworking and devoted to their four children, Zada Bacoj, the superintendent of their Brooklyn apartment building, told the Daily News.
Ruhshona was "a little angel," Bacoj said. "What bigger heartbreak than this?"