911 recording portrays harrowing scene at triple drowning
As her grandchildren screamed and cried in the background, a north High Point woman told a 911 dispatcher in a fearful but clear voice that tragedy had befallen her family early Sunday morning.
“My granddaughter come over here and said her mother has drownded in the lake down here at Penny Road,” the unidentified caller said, according to a recording of the 911 call obtained by The High Point Enterprise. “... they went in the water and they never have come back out. They said the water’s still.”
The scope of what had happened unfolds during the 11 minute recording, as the woman learns that three family members — her son, daughter-in-law and another granddaughter — apparently attempted to swim in a 2-acre retention pond bordered by a business park and an apartment complex near Penny Road and N.C. 68 about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.
Kenny Colon Jordan, 30, and his wife, Heather Dawn Jordan, 33, along with her daughter, Nikki Dawn Simpkins, 12, all drowned in the frigid water, according to High Point police.
It remained unclear Monday why the family members, in the middle of a freezing night, took the approximately five-minute walk from their residence at 2723 N.C. 68 to the pond and got into the water, which was about 45 degrees at the time.
Two other children also apparently got into the water with the victims but got out and ran for help. At least one of them went to the home of their grandmother, who called 911.
On the recording, the caller moans, “Oh, my God,” as she learns what has happened from her grandchildren, but the 911 operator praises her for remaining calm.
“This boy here’s just shakin’ cold,” she said.
At one point on the recording, she told the children to “get in there by the fire. I don’t know what in the world y’all were doing in that cold lake.”
The victims lived in close proximity to other relatives in what was once rural Guilford County but is now surrounded by office parks and apartment complexes. Outside his home on Monday, Kenny Jordan’s father, Kenny Taylor, said he and other family members were not ready to talk about the deaths.
High Point police Chief Marty Sumner said detectives were still investigating the circumstances that led up to the victims’ decisions to enter the pond, which is shallow near the edges but 8 to 9 feet at its deepest point.
He said he does not expect any charges to be filed against anyone in connection with the incident. Sumner said the case will remain open until the results of autopsies and toxicology exams — which will show whether alcohol was involved — on the victims are returned.
“It was absolutely and completely a tragedy and didn’t ever have to happen, no question about that,” said Sumner.
Authorities said hypothermia would have set in quickly in water that cold. It took emergency crews about nine hours to recover the victims’ bodies on Sunday.
Nikki Simpkins was in the sixth grade at Southwest Guilford Middle School. A crisis team made up of counselors, school psychologists and social workers to help students cope with the loss of their classmate was at the school Monday, according to Principal Joe Caraher.
“Everybody’s taking it hard — the students, as well as some of our teachers who have been deeply impacted by it,” said Caraher. “She was a student that really endeared herself to her teachers and to her friends. She was one there was a lot of deep feeling about, so it’s been very difficult, I’d say.”