Five children nearly drowned in Valley swimming pools Wednesday, prompting one firefighter to say it was "one of the worst days I've seen in 15 years."
Four of the children were under 5; two were in critical condition Wednesday, but the other three are expected to recover.
The spate started in Glendale about 8:20 a.m., when 2-year-old Jacob Patrick Nielsen wandered outside and fell into the pool while his mother was showering. Two other children in the house didn't notice that the boy was gone.
Firefighters did not know how long the boy had been in the water when his mother pulled him out, but they said he had no pulse when they arrived at the home in the 5900 block of West Shangri-La Road.
The child was flown to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in critical condition.
About noon, 2-year-old Colton Skaggs slipped past his baby-sitter and tumbled into a pool in the 400 block of West Blackhawk Drive in Phoenix.
The sitter noticed the boy was missing almost immediately and pulled him from the water. She began rescue breathing before firefighters took him to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, where the child was treated and released.
About 90 minutes later, firefighters on opposite ends of the Valley got the calls they dread every summer.
In West Phoenix, Marino Villatanido, 1, had been face down in a pool for 10 minutes after opening an arcadia door and wandering outside the family's home in the 6100 block of West Mitchell Drive. His mother noticed him missing and pulled him from the pool, but she was unable to perform rescue breathing.
The toddler was taken to St. Joesph's Hospital and Medical Center in critical condition.
About the same time in Chandler, a New Mexico boy nearly drowned at the Southgate Inn on the 7400 block of South Chandler Boulevard after he lost his water wings in the pool, said Capt. Lance Trella of the Chandler Fire Deparlrnent.
Four-year-old Stephan Briones' parents found him floating face down, pulled him out and performed CPR, Trella said. He was conscious when he was taken to Maricopa Medical Center. He was released Wednesday.
The last victim was found about 2 p.m. in Mesa. An autistic girl was found face-down in the pool at Poston Junior High School, 2400 East Adobe Street, said Capt. Gil Damiani, a Mesa Fire Department spokesman.
A lifeguard saw Alana Baker and thought the girl was practicing how to float. The lifeguard dived in when Alana didn't move.
After two rescue breaths, Alana vomited and started breathing again Damiani said. Alana, who is about 8 years old was flown to a Valley hospital as a precaution and was listed in fair condition Wednesday night.
"This was the worst day I've ever heard of," said John Harrington, president of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Central Arizona. Harrington emphasized the need for direct supervision whenever children are around water.
"A day like today‹people pay attention and take it to heart," Harrington said. "But six months down the road, they may say, 'It won't happen to me.'"
Khan said that Wednesday was the worst day he's seen in 15 years and echoed Harrington's call.
"All incidents today involve a lack of supervision," Khan said. "We need to have a vigilance like at the public pools."
Khan said Phoenix has had 57 drowning incidents this year, 33 involving children under 5 years old. Phoenix has recorded 15 drowning deaths this year.
In Mesa, there have been 13 drowning calls this year; four were fatal. In the 13 incidents, six involved children under 5.
Glendale has had nine drowning incidents, and four ended in fatalities said Sandy Raynor, a spokeswoman with the Glendale Fire Department. Three of the deaths involved children under 5 years old. Valleywide statistics were unavailable.
Harrington said parents should make sure they have a 5-foot-high fence between the pool and the home, and a self-closing, self-latching door with a knob 54 inches above the ground. They should also make sure their children take swimming lessons.
However, none of those measules will take the place of a watchful eye.
"It just takes a few seconds for a drowning to happen." Raynor said. "Having locked doors and fences is no substitute for keeping an eye on the child."
Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Written by: Keith J. Allen
Chart by: Mark Waters
©Copyright 1997 Arziona Republic
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