Police: Mom’s Tweeting Had No Role in Boy’s Drowning
MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - The primary investigator in the drowning of 2-year-old Bryson Ross said his mother's involvement with online social media did not lead to the child's death.
"Her tweeting had nothing to do with what happened with regard to her son," said Joe Martin, a homicide agent with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office. "It was an accident."
Martin said the investigation is still open, but no charges will be filed.
Shellie Ross, 37, has come under fire in the Internet community of Twitter and blogs, with some people writing that her online comments before she found Bryson in their backyard swimming pool contributed to his death.
Bryson's story, the debate about Ross' tweeting and discussion of the social media phenomenon itself have gone viral worldwide - gaining national and international media attention.
Supporters, meanwhile, have been just as vocal online, with several groups of mothers hosting chats Thursday to show sympathy for Ross and to memorialize Bryson.
Ross and her family remained inside their home Thursday, comforted by friends, family and military personnel from Patrick Air Force Base, where Ross' husband, Steve Ross, 39, is a sergeant.
Shellie Ross declined to talk about the Twitter controversy, but she did speak about her son.
"He was going to rule the world," she said, smiling at thoughts of the blond-haired, blue-eyed boy. "He was a dynamic child who could even command adults to do what he wanted. He was an old soul."
Martin, the sheriff's investigator, revealed a detailed timeline that was different from the one given earlier to Florida Today.
He said Ross, her 11-year-old son Kris and little Bryson were all outside working on a chicken coop in the far backyard. Ross posted comments on Twitter several times between 5:17 p.m. and 5:22 p.m. about her dogs, the chickens and a rare afternoon fog off the Atlantic Ocean. It is unclear, however, how accurate Twitter time stamps are.
Repeated e-mail attempts to contact officials from the San Francisco-based company were unsuccessful.
At some point before the mother's 5:22 p.m. post, Martin said Ross asked Kris to take Bryson, turn off a hose to the pool and go inside. When she finished cleaning the chicken coop, Ross walked through the fog, passed the pool and went inside. When she realized that Bryson was not in the house, she and Kris went to look for him. They found him at the bottom of the pool, and Ross dove in to get him.
Kris called 911 at 5:23 p.m.
Martin said Ross can be heard on the 911 tape screaming for help as she tried to revive him. Operators gave her instructions on how to perform CPR on a toddler.
A sheriff's deputy arrived at the home at 5:30 p.m. and took over the administration of CPR. Brevard County Fire-Rescue paramedics got there two minutes later, put Bryson into an ambulance and tried to revive him on the way to Cape Canaveral Hospital, where they arrived at 5:55 p.m.
Doctors pronounced the toddler dead at 6 p.m.
But at that time, Ross, who was in the waiting room with a victim advocate and a hospital chaplain, did not know that her son had died. At 6:12 p.m., she picked up her cell phone and reached out to her 5,300 online friends, tweeting, "Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool."
At 6:31 p.m., doctors came to tell her that her son was dead.
"I could hear in the background, all of a sudden, the mother yelling out, 'No!' " said Martin, who was on the phone with the victim advocate when Ross was given the news. "I could hear her crying out loud."
Bryson's funeral is scheduled for next week.