• PPCD

An accident has forever changed my life; never let your guard down

"I have been involved in aquatics my whole life. I took a lot of swim classes, was active in the swim team, and was a lifeguard.


Last March, I started swimming laps again. I actively preach water safety and help parents with water safety. I preach the negatives of puddle jumpers. I taught my daughter's best friend to swim at age 9 . I taught my daughter swimming and survival skills very early.



On afternoon in July 2019, I was swimming at a public community pool with my daughter and her friends. The community pool was packed. There is a pool inside and outside, with lifeguards on staff.


After I finished with my laps and playing games, I noticed one of the lifeguard chairs outside was vacant. A lifeguard walked from the inside to outside pool and pointed in the water near me, asking the lifeguard sitting near me if he had checked on the little girl under the water. There was a small lifeless child sinking to the bottom. I was already in the water and did what I had been trained do as a lifeguard. I grabbed her, pushed off the bottom, and swam her to the edge of the pool, keeping her head above water.


I expected the lifeguard to meet me at the edge and start CPR. He was not there, but thankfully another patron grabbed her from me and got her out of the pool. I ran and got my father, who has two lifesaving CPR awards in his lifetime. We did CPR. The paramedics took 9 minutes to arrive. Ultimately, she died.


I was angry. I asked all the lifeguards for their qualifications. I asked where the AED machine was. I asked if anyone was oxygen administration certified, nobody even attempted to bag her. I asked when was their last safety meeting?


Why was no one watching the water? The little girl was at the pool with a deaf uncle. They were finished swimming. He ran to the bathroom and asked her to wait outside.


She was 5 years old and had a false sense of security from puddle jumpers and arm floaties. When out of sight she ran back into the pool jumped into water five feet deep. No one saw.


Since the incident, my daughter has been through therapy and is doing fine. But I am still struggling with PTSD from the incident. I have always been an advocate for water safety, but now it's a life mission. Supervision and water watchers could have prevented her death. Lifeguards should have prevented her death. "



Written by Sarah Watkins


At PPCD, we understand the dangers of water. Children are drawn to it, and when our society teaches them playing in the water is fun and safe, it can make for a dangerous situation. Drowning is fast and silent. No one noticed the little girl under the water, even the eight lifeguards on duty that day. PPCD sends our deepest condolences to this family. Through tragedy, we hope to learn and do better.


Never let your guard down around water with children. NEVER. Teach them to self-rescue and survival swimming skills. The most dangerous thing you can teach your child is a love for the water, without teaching them any respect.

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your child was not designed to drown, they were meant to floaT!

© 2020 by Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning - design assisted by Sarah Savoie

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