New Fence Installed Where Little Girl Drowned in Coachella Canal

According to a recent report from the Desert Sun, a new fence is being installed along the Coachella Canal after the death of a child.

Seven-year-old Annie Lee Palmer, a Columbus, Ohio native, was visiting her grandmother in Niland when she was reported missing on July 28. Her body was found two days later, 15 miles east of Desert Aire Drive, in the canal. Because of the current and the steep, slippery canal walls, it took more than six hours to recover her body.

Heinrich Boykins, 56, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and child neglect the day after Palmer’s disappearance. Boykins, who is married to Palmer’s grandmother, was said to be in charge of watching the child during her parents’ absence. He remains jailed on $100,000 bail.

Officials have already put up over 38 miles of fencing along the 122-mile canal, but the $51 billion fencing industry can anticipate an extra 1,200 feet of extra fence sales for the area where Annie was said to have entered the canal.

“Unfortunately the fence is not a complete deterrent. This is especially true in areas like Slab City where the fence is being cut in order to gain access to the canal,” said Diane Carmony, spokesperson for Coachella Valley Water District.

Despite efforts to increase safety around the canal, the city still sees many people trying to use the canal to swim. Because of the increased current and steep canal walls, it’s a deceivingly dangerous swimming spot. The city implores citizens to stay away from the canal, and to alert officials of any suspicious behavior to avoid further loss and injury. Carmony adds that the fence is under constant surveillance and repair.

“District personnel run this stretch of canal on a nearly daily basis,” she said, “repairing the fence as soon as a cut in the fence is encountered.”


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