A 4-year-old Harford County boy drowned yesterday in the Gunpowder River after his baby sitter left him and two other children on the shore as she set up a picnic lunch nearby, officials said.
James Spicer, of Edgewood, had come to Gunpowder Falls State Park in northern Baltimore County with his younger sister and a third child, all under the care of Jeanette Muehleisen of Edgewood.
Two other adults and Muehleisen's teen-age daughter accompanied them.
About 1 p.m., Muehleisen left the three children on the beach while she prepared lunch, said Susan O'Brien, spokeswoman with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
About 15 minutes later, Muehleisen noticed the boy was missing and alerted one of five lifeguards on duty, O'Brien said. They did not search the water initially, O'Brien said, because Muehleisen believed the boy would have obeyed her instructions to stay on the shore.
After searching the beach and a grassy area about 10 minutes, the lifeguards and some beach-goers began looking in the water, O'Brien said. After five minutes, one of the adults in Muehleisen's party found the boy below the surface.
Lifeguards tried to resuscitate the boy , until he was put on a helicopter to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He died en route, about 2 p.m., O'Brien said.