Maymont closed after child killed in park

Posted at 5:39 PM, Jun 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-14 13:24:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Maymont park will remain closed until Saturday morning at 10 a.m. after a four-year-old child was killed when a tree fell on top of himduring Thursday's severe thunderstorm.

Richmond Police identified the child as Shawn T. Wills, of Chesterfield.

The boy's father, who was with the child, was injured when the tree landed on them. The 43-year-old father was transported to VCU Medical Center with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

Richmond Police detectives who investigated the death have ruled it "an accident."

Police said they were called to the park just before 4 p.m. as the storm was moving into the city. First responders found the tree on top of the child. Paramedics arrived, but the child died on the scene.

The incident happened behind the nature center down the trail by the stream. The park was in the midst of an evacuation when the tree fell, CBS 6 reporter Shelby Brown said.

"We did have staff at the scene that were evacuating the grounds at that time with a bull horn getting people to come in so that activity was going on at that point," said Richmond Police Department spokesman Gene Lepley. "I’m not sure where the group involved with the tree was at that point.”

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic both responded to the park.

Jones said he prayed with the child's family - who he described as "very religious."

"They were strengthened by each others' faith," Jones said. "At a time like this your presence is perhaps the most important. We're asking the entire city to pray for the family and to be supportive of this family."

The Maymont Foundation released a statement saying staff are assisting authorities with the investigation -- and that the park will be closed until further notice.

Stay with CBS 6 News and for the latest on this developing story.