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FEBRUARY 15, 2000

Logan Mestas and his brother, Austin Esker, were inseparable.

They rode bikes together in front of their west Phoenix home, played side by side at the neighborhood park and got into little-boy mischief as a team.

On Monday, they both walked into the murky green water of the same swimming pool.

But as relatives pulled Logan's limp body from the pool's shallow end, Austin sank, undetected for at least 10 more minutes, into the depths at the other end.

"This is a tragedy," said Andrew Mestas, Logan's uncle. "These are two babies that had their whole lives ahead of them."

Austin was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was only 4. Logan, 2, was in critical condition Monday night. He was taken off of life support three days later and died shortly there after. He just had his birthday Saturday; the party was to be this weekend.

"We want people to pray for our kids," Mestas said.

Rescuers were called to the home in the 6400 block of West Amelia Avenue after an uncle pulled Logan from his grandmother's pool and began CPR.

Paramedics were trying to get the boy to breathe when someone asked a question that made every heart skip a beat: "Where's the other little boy at?"

"Oh, dear God," said Deputy Chief Bob Khan of the Phoenix Fire Department. "Your first instinct is, 'Do you have another kid down there?' They went right to the water, and, unfortunately, their worst fears were realized. This is just devastating."

Police and firefighters used pool nets and brushes to poke through the water. It was so dirty, it was like trying to look through smoke. Rescuers couldn't see more than a foot down.

"You're looking at it and you're hoping that it's anything but that," Khan said.

Austin's body floated to the surface.

The boy's grandmother told firefighters she hadn't seen Logan for about 20 minutes before he was found in the pool. Andrew Mestas said about 10 kids were playing outside nearby and another uncle, working on an addition to his home, was 20 feet from the fenced pool and didn't hear anything.

A padlock kept the pool gate from latching closed and a license-plate-size piece of sheet metal covered a gap in the fence.

Little footprints in the ground showed the boys' path into the pool.

"It sounds like a classic scenario of one child following the other into the pool," Khan said.The fence was breached. The water was murky. Everything was against these kids."

Neither boy had a pulse or was breathing when he was pulled from the pool. It took rescuers at least 10 minutes to get a pulse on Logan, but he still wasn't breathing on his own when he got to the hospital. Austin and Logan were the second and third children that drown in Phoenix this year.

"They were very good little boys," Mestas said. "They were very close. This is very sad."

A photo shows the two smiling boys standing one behind the other like steps.

"We just want people to be aware of their kids and watch them," Mestas said, holding the picture, "If there's any holes in the (pool) fence, plug them up. This could happen to anybody's family."

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Byline: by Judi Villa
©Copyright 2000 Arizona Republic

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