Sep 262011

The 7-year-old Somerton boy who was saved from drowning by his 12-year-old brother and a neighbor Saturday morning is back home and recovering, according to Robby Rodriguez of the Somerton/Cocopah Fire Department.

The two boys had been swimming without adult supervision at the Chaves Apartments complex in the 500 block of Somerton Avenue when the older brother went to their apartment for a drink. When he returned, he spotted the 7-year-old at the bottom of the pool.

A neighbor who was outside heard the older boy screaming and went to see what was happening.

The neighbor and the older boy pulled the boy from the pool. The 7-year-old was unconscious and not breathing. The neighbor administered CPR. When SCFD firefighters arrived at 10:52 a.m., they found the 7-year-old boy being held up by his brother and with pool water coming out of his mouth.

This is the third drowning or near-drowning instance involving children that the SCFD fire department has responded to in recent years, according to Rodriguez. A 14-month-old child drowned in a uncovered cesspool in March 2010, and a 4-year-old girl was pulled from a canal in the area of East Main Canal Bridge on the East Cocopah Indian Reservation in 2008.

“If a parent gives a child permission to use the pool, they must be there to watch the child at all times. It must be done,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t want any more children killed while being unattended.”

SCFD firefighters returned to the same complex later that same day for an unrelated medical call, according to Rodriguez, and observed five more children swimming unattended in the pool.

“That didn’t set well with us. We met with the apartment complex management (Monday morning) and offered to teach a pool safety class to all the residents. It is our job as firefighters to get this information out there so incidents like this don’t keep happening.”

Rodriguez said the SCFD is also proposing a city ordinance that establishes minimum public pool safety requirements. Currently, the city of Somerton code only requires pools to be completely enclosed by a permanent fence, wall or barrier.

The intent of the Ordinance Development Team, he said, is to specify required fence heights, gate types (self-closing), proper signage and appropriate safety devices.

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