Grandmother looks for donations in canal drowning tragedy

NILAND, Calif. – It’s been almost a week since 7-year-old Annie Lee Palmer drowned in the Coachella Canal. The girl was visiting her grandmother from Columbus, Ohio for the summer. Today her grandmother opened up to share her last moments with her beloved granddaughter.

Palmer drowned while out with her sister and grandfather last week. Now her grandmother, Laurie Williams, is asking for donations from the community to have Annie’s body returned to her family in Ohio. Williams says the last time she heard from her granddaughter she was having a good time with grandfather.

“They were at Salvation Mountain and they were running around playing. They said that it was 6 degrees hotter than it was at the house and that’s the last I heard from them.” said Williams.

Annie was reported missing Wednesday evening of last week. Her body was found two days later in Mecca, California, just miles away from where she was last seen. Sheriff’s deputies say 57-year-old Heinrich Boykins, her grandfather, was arrested the same day of the tragic incident for child endangerment and voluntary manslaughter.

“Everybody makes mistakes, nobody really knows what happened but God. People are looking down, people are accusing but he is suffering too.” said Williams.

The Coachella Canal warning signs clearly state to not swim and to stay out of the water therefore Boykins is facing some hefty criminal charges. Williams says she spoke to the coroner earlier today to hear about her granddaughter’s autopsy.

“He said the autopsy was performed and Annie did drown there was no other trauma to her at all just drowning apparently.” said Williams.

For now William’s focus is to get her grandchild’s body back to Ohio with her mother, father, and siblings.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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