Metro family grieving loss of girl who died in apparent drowning at friend’s birthday party

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A Lee's Summit family is mourning the loss of an 11-year-old little girl.

Kelah Richmond died two weeks ago from an apparent drowning at a friend's birthday party. As her family grieves, they're just hoping someone can learn from what happened to her.

Kelah Richmond loved to sing and had a smile that could light up any room.

"She was always happy, playful. She was always dancing and she was just a wonderful granddaughter," said her grandmother Dottie Locke, who helped raise Kelah.

Dottie Locke says back on September 23, she was enjoying a night of bingo. When she glanced at her phone, she had dozens of missed calls. Her son finally reached her to say her precious granddaughter Kelah had died.

"I tell you it was just not real. I couldn't believe it until I saw her," Locke said.

Kelah had begged to go to a friend's birthday sleepover at a farm in Greenwood. The kids spent a lot of the party in the family's pool. Dottie says Kelah was a more than capable swimmer.

"She knew how very well and several people have taken her swimming," said Locke.

So when Kelah's family learned she died from drowning, they couldn't believe it.

"It's just a mystery as to what happened," Locke said.

Investigators told them people at the party said she'd come out of the water choking. The birthday girl's mom had gone back inside. Moments later, Kelah apparently ended up back in the pool and couldn't catch her breath. The mom tried to do CPR but it was too late.

"We just hope we can help someone that way that Kelah's life is not vain, but that her life will help someone to think and know that you do have responsibility when you have not only your children but when you have other kids that you're in charge of," Locke said.

Kelah's family is now trying to move forward, thankful for the community's support as they grieve.

"It's just phenomenal. So much love. It's really helped us," Locke said.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case, but Kelah's family is considering legal action against the pool's owners.

Kelah Richmond's wake will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at Floral Hills in Raytown, followed by a funeral at 2 p.m.

If you'd like to help the family with funeral expenses, you can do so by clicking on this link.