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5-year-old girl dies after near-drowing incident at Mooreton Pond

FARGO - A 5-year-old girl involved in a near-drowning incident Wednesday in Richland County died this morning, a family member said.

Jade Curtis-Dean of Gwinner, N.D., died about 3 a.m., said her step-great-aunt, Joyce Bjork of Forman, N.D.

MeritCare spokesman Darren Huber confirmed the girl died overnight.

An unattributed message posted today to the CaringBridge website created for the girl reads:

"I would like to take this time to thank everyone who was there for Jade. All the prayers and visits, comments, and support. Unfortunately Jade passed away this morning at 3:00 a.m. She went into cardiac arrest twice and she just could not take CPR for the third time. So her daddy and her mom made the hardest decision of their lives which was to let her rest. We love her so much and again thanks to everyone."

Jade had been on a ventilator and fighting severe pneumonia while in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit at Fargo MeritCare Children's Hospital, according to the website.

On Wednesday, she was swimming in Mooreton Pond, a small man-made lake along Interstate 29 about 37 miles south of Fargo. A relative who was watching her at the time briefly turned away to yell at her dog, and when she turned back, Jade was gone, according to a witness and law enforcement.

People at the pond began searching for the girl. After about 10 minutes she was found underwater by 20-year-old Steve Huotari of Fargo.

Huotari said he and his mother performed CPR on the girl for about eight minutes until law enforcement and paramedics arrived to take over.

A Richland County sheriff's deputy who performed CPR on the girl said it was at least another five minutes before she regained a pulse.

"It's sad. She was such a darling little girl," Bjork said.