A FAMILY have had their lives torn apart after their two-year-old daughter drowned in a pond on Sunday.
Little Rachel Nuttall was playing with her older brother and sister in fields at the back of the family farm in Oswaldtwistle when she wandered off.
Her frantic parents launched a search when they realised she was missing and the toddler was found lying face down in the pond at around 9.15pm.
She was rushed to Blackburn Royal Infirmary but attempts to revive her proved fruitless and she was pronounced dead on arrival.
Her parents Andrew, 43, and Suzanne, 34, of Higher Eden Farm, Elton Road, Belthorn, were devastated by the tragedy and were too upset to talk about it earlier this week.
Rachel's uncle John Boyes released a statement saying: "The whole family are devastated at what has happened and we are too upset to talk to anyone. We ask that we be allowed to grieve in peace."
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and the Coroner has been informed.
It is believed the family had been taking advantage of the sunny weather and the children had been allowed to play out later than normal.
The water in the pond, which is used to provide drinking water for cattle, was not thought to be deep.
Richard Yates, landlord of the nearby Pack Horse pub and restaurant on Haslingden Old Road, said: "They are a nice family and the whole village is very upset as this is a real tragedy. Rachel was a pretty little girl and when my wife told me what had happened I was shocked."
Roger Vincent of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) said: "What has happened is a terrible tragedy. Every year about eight children under five drown in garden ponds, but in about 80 per cent of cases it is in someone else's garden rather than their own.
"It sounds like Rachel had wandered off and children have been known to drown in just a few inches of water.
"The key to preventing these accidents is supervision but it is hard for parents to keep an eye on their children at all times."