Daycare Operator Jailed After Child Drowns in Pool
In Florida, swimming in pools is a popular recreational activity, and it can be safe with proper supervision. However, if an adult’s attention wanders and a child is allowed to play in a pool unsupervised, tragedy can occur. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among small children. You should know what can happen, how to prevent drowning, and what to do after a tragedy does occur.
Spate of Pool Accidents in Florida
Florida is not a stranger to the tragedies that improper supervision can bring. Just at the end of January, a 16-month-old child was found drowned in his family’s above-ground pool sometime before 4:00 p.m. His Polk County mother pulled the child from the pool, and he was airlifted to a local medical center, but the child did not survive. Then, in early February, a visiting child was swept away in a wave pool on a local cruise ship. It was nearly six minutes before the child was found underwater. The child was in critical condition.
The spike in child deaths has led some Florida residents to speak out. The Broward County campaign, called #SaferBy4, recommends vigilant adult supervision, locked gates, and even pool alarms. The local Children’s Services Council also offers vouchers for water safety lessons for qualifying youths.
You should also be aware that drowning doesn’t look like you think it does. Instead of a splashing, panicked call for help, with both arms raised in the air and panicked shouts, drowning is often silent. People who are drowning can’t breathe to call out, and the water weighs them down so they cannot splash above the surface. Once drowning starts, the body’s instinctive drowning response kicks in, and the swimmer will involuntary remain upright in the water, unable to wave for help. Constant vigilance is the best preventative.
Sometimes preventative awareness, however, isn’t enough. The child who nearly drowned in a cruise ship pool went unnoticed, perhaps because, like many cruise ships, no life guard was watching the child. Instead, a posted sign merely warned potential swimmers to swim at their own risk. However, there was someone who should have been watching the three-year-old Florida boy who drowned at a day care in December of 2013. Having lost the child, the daycare worker could not find him for nearly three hours. When the child was eventually found, detectives surmised that the child had climbed through a deficiency in the fence surrounding the pool.
The Department of Children and Families had previously measured the fence for such gaps, but failed to measure the gaps between the wooden slats. State codes prohibit gaps wide enough for a child to slip through. Further, the pool steps were not able to be removed while adults were not present, another violation of agency code. The day care operator responsible for the child’s death was recently sentenced to a month in jail and eight years of probation, and the day care was closed down.
If you are a Florida resident with pool access, you should be aware of the dangers and how to prevent them. If tragedy does strike, you should know that you can seek justice for improper supervision or a faulty gate. Call Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney Scott Newmark for a consultation.