19-month-old nearly drowns in pool
By Will Greenlee staff writer - TCPalm.com - June 21, 2002

PORT ST. LUCIE -- A 19-month-old girl who only recently began talking was in critical condition Thursday after almost drowning in her family's swimming pool.

And even though she survived, her family said Christina Kelly Samaroo will likely suffer from the incident for the rest of her life.

"Chances are 99 out of 100 that if she survives she'll be critical for the rest of her life," her grandmother, Basmati Niranjan, said Thursday. "She was under the water for about seven minutes."

Christina is being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach after apparently falling into a pool Wednesday at the family home on Glades Cut-Off Road in rural, southwestern St. Lucie County.

Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the home, 13 miles south of Midway Road, about 7:05 p.m. and found paramedics treating the toddler.

Christina's mother, Kemwattie Sukhlall, 25, told deputies that while she went to the bathroom she heard a scream from her 10-year-old daughter, Diane Beresford.

"Mommy, mommy, mommy, Christina is in the pool and she is not moving," Diane yelled, Niranjan recalled Thursday.

"I just ran over," Niranjan said, standing by the pool.

"Christina's mother was in the back washroom. . . . Before I could reach here, the mother already got here and jumped into the pool and got her out."

Christina was floating face down, a sheriff's report states.

Niranjan, a native of Guyana who moved to her St. Lucie County home in February, said her home has a door that opens onto the pool, but said it was locked. She suspected Christina apparently learned how to work it.

"When the mom left and went to the washroom she probably got up and open the door," Niranjan said. "I don't know how quick it happened."

Christina's 26-year-old father called 911, and a man working on a water pump in the back yard attempted CPR, according to the sheriff's report. Niranjan said 911 operators tried to calm the family members down and help them treat the child.

"We're only hoping and praying for the best, for God to save her now," Naranjan said.

Christina's near-drowning comes less than a month after a 3-year-old girl died after falling ino the family pool when her mother reportedly left the child to get a towel from a bedroom.

Police and fire-rescue crews responded to 2138 S.E. Dolphin Road at 7:37 p.m. May 27 and found Myla Ross unconscious on the floor.

Amy Kryak, co-founder of Never Leave a Child Unattended, a child-safety campaign, said pool owners can take several measures that could prevent such a tragedy:

  • Enclose pools with a fence or screened enclosure with a door that can be locked.
  • Purchase a pool alarm, a floating, battery-operated device that emits noise when ripples disturb the water's calm surface.
  • Teach your children how to swim.
  • Learn CPR and have emergency phone numbers nearby.

But even those measures aren't always enough, she said.

"All those are givens," Kryak said. "All of that gives family members and caregivers a false sense of security, because nothing replaces supervision.

"A pool in the back yard is like a loaded gun on a dining room table," Kryak said. "It's that dangerous."

This article was published with permission from TCPalm.com. For ongoing coverage of this and other issues relevant to the community please visit their website at www.tcpalm.com.

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