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Hobart hole where 2 boys drowned filled, fund set up for family

Signs posted near property warn tresspassing site Hobart June 16 2014. | Jim Karczewski/For Sun-Times Media

Signs posted near the property warn of tresspassing on the site in Hobart on June 16, 2014. | Jim Karczewski/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 19, 2014 6:36AM



HOBART — A water-filled hole where two boys drowned Saturday night has been drained and filled, but the investigation into their deaths is still ongoing, including whether the work had the proper permits or if the pit was properly secured.

Two neighborhood boys —Terrion Smith, 8, and his brother, Donel Smith, 9 — drowned in the pit located in the 4000 block of Missouri Street. The boys lived nearby in the 3900 block of Louisiana Street.

Police Chief Richard Zormier said the investigation is ongoing, and detectives are in the process of interviewing many neighbors and witnesses.

“If there is any criminal liability, then we will have to file charges,” Zormier said. “But the investigation has to be complete.”

The family has not yet finalized funeral arrangements. A Merrillville resident who was Terrion Smith’s first-grade teacher has opened a savings account at Chase Bank to assist the family with funeral expenses. Donations can be made to the “Smith Children of Gary, Ind., Memorial Fund” at any Chase branch.

Neighbors told the Post-Tribune on Monday that they have complained about the property, where someone has been digging a hole, removing trees and moving soil — purportedly to install a fishing pond — for about the past year. But it’s unclear who owns the property that includes the pond.

A public records request revealed that there was one formal complaint filed in the block on April 7. A nearby homeowner told the city that someone was supposed to be putting in a pond, but instead it was filled with broken chunks of asphalt. The complaint indicated that no further action was taken by the city.

The city granted two applications for fill permits in the block in October 2013. One permit sought to improve a backyard on the block, by using a mixture of sand and clay. The second permit also mentioned backyard improvements, including erosion control through permanent seeding. It mentioned spreading 25 cubic yards of sand at a depth of 2 feet. Hobart’s city code details that people must have a permit from the city to excavate, and depending on the type of property or size of excavation, a fence is required.



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