Woman sentenced to jail time, probation for boy's drowning in Dearborn hotel pool


DETROIT – The family of the little boy who drowned in a Dearborn hotel pool in 2012 watched Thursday  morning as Cheneka Gardner was sentenced to jail time and probation for his death.

Jayvion Rucker-Todd did not want her face shown on camera, but wiped away tears as she shared in court what life has been like without her 5-year-old grandson by her side.

"Every morning when I wake up, he is the first person on my mind, and every night before I go to sleep, he's the last thing on my mind," she said.

He was under the supervision of Gardner and Wilma Gissantaner during Gardner's daughter's birthday party.

Gardner pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter last April. It's alleged Gardner and  Gissantaner had been drinking alcohol while they were watching about 15 children, including the little boy, in the pool at the former Hyatt Hotel.

The little boy needed extra supervision because he couldn't hear or speak.

Now, his grandmother can only imagine what her grandson would have accomplished in life if he had the chance.

"He was placed on this earth for a purpose and the plan was for him to be with us for a very long time," she said.

Gardner was ordered to spend one year in jail, followed by four years of probation.


The other defendant, Gissantaner, didn't show up in court for sentencing. A warrant has been issued for her arrest.