4 Year -Old Drowning Victim
Earlier in the week preceding Sunday, June 7, 2009, I had been emailed by (name removed) who asked if I could lifeguard for the kids for their pool time as part of “Kid’s Sunday.” I arrived at the church around 11:15am, and went to the pool to check the conditions. I checked the water levels of both pools (large pool and baby pool), removed the Polaris cleaning robot, and did a complete chemical check of both pools, which turned up normal/okay for all chemicals. I also installed the rope/buoys in the large pool to separate the shallow end from the deep end, checked the skimmers, and did a final bit of cleaning. I also checked my safety gear – backboard, rescue tubes, whistle, and grab pole. Once I was satisfied that everything was in order, I talked with (name removed) and we briefly went over how we were going to get the kids in the pool and manage them. I mentioned that parents were going to have to help watch as there would be too many kids for me to watch at one time by myself. As a result of that conversation, we DID have plenty of parents and adults there helping me watch the children. When the kids came out, I instructed them on the rules and checked with the children on their ability to swim in the deep end of the large pool. The smaller children were instructed to stay in the baby pool, with adults right there watching them. Everything went fine during the swim time up until the incident occurred. I did have to blow my whistle a few times to warn some older children not to play so rough, and one small girl who was assigned to the baby pool kept trying to get in the adult pool. Several times I, and others, had to get her out of the adult pool (each time we noticed her as she was getting into the pool). At no time did we have over 20 children in the adult pool at one time. There were probably 5 or 6 (at most) in the baby pool. Several adults were helping me keep watch, including (names removed) and several parents. Things began winding down by 1:30pm (1330 hours). Several families had already left, and I would estimate there were only 10 kids left in the adult pool. I had kept a constant vigilance on the pool, watching for lengthy submersions. Earlier, a couple of boys had asked me if they could practice holding their breath under water, and I had told them emphatically, “NO,” that it would be difficult for me to tell if they were in trouble or not. [The Police Report is actually incorrect on this detail. The officer misunderstood what I said about initially thinking that whoever it was, was holding their breath because of earlier incidents of kids wanting to hold their breath underwater—but did NOT allow.] About 1:52pm (1352 hours), I noticed a figure on the bottom near the east side of the pool on the deep end. About that same instant, a girl in the water told me, “There’s a boy down here on the bottom of the pool.” Thinking that it was perhaps a boy trying to hold his breath (as I mentioned earlier), and because she was directly over him and I was on the opposite side of the pool, I told her to go down and tap him to come up. I proceeded quickly around to that side of the pool directly over him, as he was near the opposite side (east side) of the pool from me. She immediately went down to him. It only took her a few seconds, and when she came up, she told me, “He’s not moving.” I immediately dove in, went straight down to him, and grabbed him under his body. I recognized him as one of the smaller children from the baby pool. He was resting face down on the bottom, on the down slope of the deep end, in about 6 or 7 feet of water. I rushed up to the surface with him, and upon breaking the surface of the water yelled twice to dial 911. I would estimate that from the time I initially saw him to the time I got him out of the water, was only about 10-12 seconds. I exited the water with him, and immediately checked for a pulse – I could not find one. He was completely limp, not breathing, no movement and no response at all. His eyes were closed and his lips were blue. It is difficult to estimate how long he was under, but I would say it was under a minute, because there was constant vigilance by myself and others. I have no idea how he got into the adult pool without any of us noticing sooner. I found out later that the adult who had brought the child had gone to her car briefly and left the child under the supervision of the child’s teenaged sister, who was drying her back off at the time. I tilted his head back and performed two rescue breaths. I then began CPR and instructed the adults to clear everyone, especially the remaining children, from the pool. As I was performing CPR, I noticed lots of water coming from his mouth, and knew I was clearing his lungs. I was also getting good chest expansion on my two breaths on each and every cycle. I did not have time to get a mouth barrier. After working on him for about two or three minutes, his eyes partially opened. Soon thereafter, I noticed him trying to cough, then he coughed really clearly and began screaming and crying. There was a mucus-like substance with traces of blood coming from his mouth as well as some additional water. I wrapped a towel around him to keep him warm as I was concerned with shock. I continued to monitor his breathing and kept trying to clear the mucus-like substance from his mouth. I handed him to the woman who had brought him and instructed her to hold him upright while I tried to clear his mouth. About that time the ambulance arrived and I turned him over to the ambulance EMTs. I informed them that I had a four year-old male drowning victim who had no signs of life when I found him and what I had done to revive him. We worked together on him in the ambulance while in the parking lot to stabilize him and get an IV started. We had a strong heart-rate and good oxygen level in his blood stream. Once we got the IV drip going, I exited the ambulance, and they transported him to (removed) Hospital in (removed). I went to the hospital a short time later to check on his condition and talk with his mother and the nurses. There I learned that he had a pre-existing asthma condition. He was transported to Jackson, MS out of a concern for his small stature, and his lung condition (being so small) and having asthma. He is, however, expected to make a full recovery. I was told several times by EMTs and nurses that I did CPR correctly and that, “You saved his life.” I went back to the church and helped clear the pool of toys and made sure everything was locked up and secure. I found out later the victim’s name and birthdate: (Ashton last name removed); born 01/25/05 Update on Tuesday, 6/9/09 mid-afternoon: I talked with Ashton’s mother on the phone to get an update on his condition. She is with him at the hospital in Jackson, MS. He is doing very well and told her what happened. She said that he told her he jumped in because he wanted to swim “in the deep water” like the older kids. That explains to me how we could have missed him going in, because it would only have taken him 3 or 4 seconds to walk over and jump in, and once he did, he would have gone straight to the bottom.