THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Young twins drown in Lynnfield

Twin 2 1/2-year-old sisters Veronica and Angelina Andreottola drowned in the swimming pool at 5 Stagecoach Lane in Lynnfield. Twin 2 1/2-year-old sisters Veronica and Angelina Andreottola drowned in the swimming pool at 5 Stagecoach Lane in Lynnfield. (Globe Staff Photo / John Blanding)
By John M. Guilfoil and Sydney Lupkin
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / July 18, 2010

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LYNNFIELD — Two toddlers, identical twin sisters, fell into the swimming pool behind their family’s home and drowned yesterday morning, leaving their parents in shock and devastating rescuers and neighbors.

Firefighters arrived at 5 Stagecoach Lane minutes after receiving a 911 call at around 10:20 a.m. and administered CPR on Veronica and Angelina Andreottola. The 2 1/2-year-olds were taken to Union Hospital in Lynn, where they were pronounced dead, authorities said yesterday.

The circumstances surrounding the drownings are under investigation by Lynnfield police and the Essex district attorney’s office, but at a news conference yesterday afternoon, Police Chief Joseph Dunn said the drownings appear to be accidental. Dunn said the girls “tragically, somehow, some way,’’ got themselves where they shouldn’t have been.

Dunn said a retractable cover was on the pool but not all the way, leaving some of the water exposed.

In a phone interview, police Sergeant Sean Donovan said that an early review indicated that the toddlers may have pushed a button to open the electric pool cover, but that remained under investigation.

“A tragic accident occurred here where two little babies are now deceased,’’ he said.

Getting details on how the drownings occurred was difficult for police because family members were in shock, police said.

“As you can certainly imagine, we didn’t get very far,’’ Donovan said.

The twins’ father told police that “his world was ending,’’ and their mother appeared dazed, he said.

The girls’ mother, Crystal Andreottola, was home at the time, but their father, Anthony, was not, according to a police statement.

The family lives in a mansion in a secluded part of town, set back from Route 1. The brick house is at the front of the lot, with a large yard to the side and rear. In the yard is a large jungle gym, with three slides and a basketball hoop. An inflatable ball sat on the grass near a tall metal fence surrounding the property.

A stream of people came and went from the home throughout the day yesterday, but two men turned away a Globe reporter and said the family would not be issuing a statement.

Neighbors said the family also has a young son.

“I can’t believe this. What a terrible tragedy,’’ said one neighbor, who lives a few houses down but did not want to give his name.

Other neighbors on the small street declined to comment or asked not to have their names published.

Lynnfield Fire Chief Thomas P. Bogart said yesterday that firefighters arrived within six minutes and had the toddlers in the ambulance, ready for transport, within three minutes of their arrival.

“This is painful. How do you prepare for 2 1/2-year-old girls?’’ Bogart said outside a firehouse near the home yesterday. “You can’t prepare for this.’’

The dozen or so firefighters, paramedics, and police officers who responded to the home were immediately taken off duty yesterday as stress and grief counselors from the Metro Boston Critical Incident Stress Management Team arrived in Lynnfield.

Bogart said the rescuers were heartbroken.

“Some are doing better than others,’’ Bogart said. “But you can’t always go by that. Some people seem OK, and they may be OK today and tomorrow, but maybe not at some point in the future.’’

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com.

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