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Many aid Langley family of drowned child

Velissa Johnson drowned Feb. 6, 2016. A memorial service is planned for Feb. 13. - Submitted
Velissa Johnson drowned Feb. 6, 2016. A memorial service is planned for Feb. 13.
— image credit: Submitted

Velissa Johnson loved pretending to talk on her play phone and with eight older siblings always had someone to play with.

The big spirit of the two-and-a-half year old Langley girl is gone. The small girl was found dead on the evening of Feb. 6 after a pond on the family’s rural five-acre property on Robertson Crescent was drained Saturday. She had wandered off from playing outdoors with other kids during the afternoon.

“Unfortunately water holds a certain attraction to children and this is a case of a moment’s inattention,” Langley RCMP Sgt. Garth Huziak.

Velissa was the subject of a search that involved RCMP, Fraser Valley Search and Rescue, the fire department, RCMP Air 1, and BC Ambulance, along with many others who know the family and even strangers.

Since the tragedy, the family felt the need to reach out to all those who helped them during what could only be described as a nightmare.

“All the support has been amazing,” said Elliot, the older brother, on behalf of the family.

Soon word spread about a child missing.

“Neighbours, people walking by, church family, and people that stopped while driving, all helped to look along the road, in the ditches and on neighbours’ properties,” he said. “Soon search and rescue were here, I think there were two or three of them, then three fire trucks, two normal ones, and a pumper truck. On top of that, were maybe eight to 10 police cruisers. Absolutely incredible the team work, and promptness of their arrival, and methods.”

He said a Victim Services officer came quickly.

“Her presence, and professional yet caring attitude, was greatly appreciated,” he added.

Members of the Johnson’s church family came to the house, helping as they could.

“Then two officers came in, both woman, and took statements from everyone.  They were so patient, and kind, and were so good with interviewing the younger kids, asking them in ways that their answers would actually be of help.”

A service for Velissa is scheduled for Saturday at the Rose of Sharon Baptist Church at 1 p.m.

“We know her spirit is in heaven with Jesus, and only her body is left here on earth.  We look forward to seeing her again,” he said.

The family wanted to thank the emergency responders that showed up so quickly for doing such a hard job, working in the dark, and for finding her.

“If we never had any answers, it would haunt us for the rest of our lives,” Elliot said.

The Johnsons said the neighbours, and passersby took time out of their lives, to search for “our little girl.”

“We won’t forget your kindness to us,” he said. “May we as a community, come together when others are hurting, to aid in the comfort, as you have done for us.”

– With files from the Vancouver Province.

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