The 8-year-old was riding an off-road vehicle when it overturned and fell into a pond. “The ATV and child were instantly submerged in the water,” the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana told Us Weekly in a statement Monday. “Within seconds the child’s mother, stepfather [Jamie Watson] and other family members reached the pond, dove in and attempted to rescue the child to no avail. The child was trapped and secured by the seatbelt and the ATV’s safety netting.” Rescue workers arrived within two minutes to pull her from the water, and Maddie is “reported to be in stable but critical condition” after the incident, the statement said.
Per TMZ, Maddie was driving a Polaris RZR 170, and the 2017 user manual for that specific model advises that kids should be 10 years old to use the vehicle. “Never allow a child under age 10 to operate or ride as a passenger in this vehicle,” the manual on the Polaris website says. “Children differ in skills, physical abilities and judgment. Please supervise the use of the vehicle at all times. Permit continued use only if you determine that you child has the ability and maturity to operate safely.”
A spokesperson for Polaris told TMZ, “The safety of our riders is our absolute top priority. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”
Since the incident, Jamie Lynn’s older sister, Britney Spears, has taken to Instagram to ask for prayers on Monday. “Need all the wishes and prayers for my niece,” she captioned a photo of Maddie posing with a dog.
The Zoey 101 alum, 25, has stayed quiet on the accident except to release a statement from the Spears family rep, saying, “Right now the Spears family asks that everyone respect their privacy during this time and appreciates all the prayers and support for their family.”
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