A woman who Nassau County police said is the mother...

A woman who Nassau County police said is the mother of the nanny, breaks down at the scene of a drowning in Lawrence. A 3-year-old girl and her 32-year-old nanny died in the incident. (June 23, 2010) Credit: Charles Eckert

A 3-year-old Lawrence girl drowned in her backyard pool Wednesday, and her nanny, who was also found floating at the deep end, died last night at an area hospital after both were pulled from the water by a house painter.

Nassau police identified the toddler as Naama Markovits. The nanny was identified as Lorena Canales-Mejia, 32, of Inwood.

Police said the tot was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway.

Canales-Mejia had been on a ventilator in the hospital's intensive care unit, said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith of the Nassau County police.

Smith said the two victims were pulled from the deep end of the pool by a painter after the girl's 5-year-old brother ran to the front of the Beechwood Drive home at about 2 p.m. to tell the painter his sister and nanny were floating in the in-ground pool and possibly drowning.

It was not clear how long they were in the pool, but Smith said investigators are looking into whether the nanny had slipped while carrying the child near the deep end of the pool, where the water is 10 feet deep.

"It's possible the house sitter had the 3-year-old in her arms and lost her footing by the deep end, but we're still investigating," Smith said at the scene.

The painter rushed to the pool and pulled the victims out of the water and tried to dial 911 but may have been hampered because his cell phone had gotten wet, Smith said.

He ran into the home and dialed police using a landline. Rescue workers arrived and rushed the woman and girl to the hospital.

The children's mother, who was running errands with an 8-year-old child, arrived shortly after the victims were taken to the hospital.

Ines Mejia, who said she was the aunt of the nanny, spoke yesterday before her niece died. She said her niece was a mother of three children herself and "a nice girl." She added: "I'm in shock."

Lawrence Village Administrator David Smollett, who called the case "a tragedy," said the pool would be inspected by the building department.

Dr. Freddy Marton, a neighbor and pediatric neurologist who said he has seen many drowning cases, called it a "tragedy beyond description," adding, "I can't imagine that anyone would be anything less than speechless."

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