Tatiana Eiland-Clinton loved to watch the ducks swimming in the lagoon near her San Mateo home.
So when she wandered away from her family’s apartment Saturday afternoon, the 3-year-old girl headed for the lagoon south of Highway 92. Minutes later, after police joined the family in the search for her, Tatiana was found unresponsive in the water. Efforts to revive her were unsuccessful.
On Monday, Tatiana’s parents mourned the loss of their daughter and said they wanted to remind parents to be as careful as they can with their children.
“She was the happiest little girl you’d ever meet,” said her mother, Deahna Eiland, 29. “She had the most beautiful smile you’d ever see.”
Tatiana was autistic but didn’t let that hold her back, her family said.
“She was really energetic,” Eiland said. “She loved to laugh and smile.”
Tatiana’s father, Len Clinton, 30, agreed, saying, “Tatiana had a presence that just lit up the room. She was a girl that drew everybody to her.”
Clinton said his daughter was “very resourceful” and probably opened the gate in the back of their apartment on the 1500 block of Day Avenue about 4:15 p.m. Saturday.
She was found just 50 feet away in the lagoon. Authorities believe she drowned.
“By all accounts, this appears to be a tragic accident,” police said in a statement.
“It’s hard,” Clinton said. “Kids are smart.”
He urged parents to “just take every precaution you can. We took every precaution we possibly can with our kids. They are very intelligent kids.”
Tatiana “could figure things out,” he said.
The couple said they were keeping their son, Deshawn – Tatiana’s fraternal twin – extra close. They found some measure of comfort in the outpouring of support from neighbors, who helped organize a candlelight vigil Saturday night.