My name is Christy. My husband of 25 years and myself have 4 children. I work as a tech on a labor and delivery floor at a hospital in Texas.
My story starts in 1996. We moved into a new house that June that was on one acre. From the time we moved in, we knew we wanted a pool. On January 27th 1997, we welcomed our third child Kaytlyn. At the time, we had a 6-year-old and an 18-month-old. In January 1999, we started the construction of the pool. During those first two years in our new home, we would sit in our backyard and think about our future pool. We put a lot of thought into where we wanted our pool and what we wanted it to be like. We also spent time thinking of how to secure it from our young children.
We researched many ideas such as fencing in just the pool, fencing the entire backyard, floating alarms, child proof gates and latches etc. We decided to fence the backyard with an 8 ft rod iron fence and gate on the breezeway. The gate was heavy and had a latch up very high. We moved all the outdoor play equipment to the front of the house on the side. We had a very long driveway and lived on a dead-end street. There was side gate for getting the lawnmower into the back which had a key lock.
When we searched for our new pool and gathered quotes, not one pool company mentioned anything about pool safety. We did not think anything about it; to us we had already taken the time and put a lot of thought into securing our pool. My husband and I grew up with our parents teaching us how to swim. We had taught our oldest how to swim. We planned on putting our two youngest in swimming lessons and working with them that upcoming summer.
On April 21, 1999, I headed out to go to the store for a couple of things. My husband stayed home with the kids. He was in the front working on the gate that faced the road. My oldest was in his room doing homework and my 3-year-old was riding on his bike on the driveway. My daughter was playing on the swing. My husband had opened the gate to the backyard to get the saw horses. He brought them to the front and got distracted. He did not close the gate. In the blink of an eye, our smart, active 2-year-old got out of our sight.
When I got back, I took my things in and looked for my daughter. I did not see her in the house and was headed back out thru the breezeway. That is when I looked over my shoulder and saw her floating face down in the pool. I screamed, and my husband ran to get her, I called 911. I could not go back where she was, I just remember screaming on the drive way until the ambulance got there. A neighbor helped my husband with CPR.
The next 8 days were agonizing. We decided to take her off life support. Our daughter was 2 years, 3 months and one day. She died on April 28, 1999.
The next few months were just a struggle to survive day to day. We had only had water in the pool for 5 weeks. After we lost her, we talked about what we were going to do about the pool. After trying a few different things, we saw an ad for a pool net. The net stays on until you take it off to swim and you put it on the minute you are done swimming. We decided on a pool net to protect our other children.
We didn’t think something like this would ever happen to us because we are good parents. We watch our kids, protect them. We thought the measures we had taken were enough. We didn't know that gates and childproof latches aren't enough. We wished someone would have told us that we needed to do more. Infant rescue swimming lessons along with a net, gates, fences, locks and latches should all be utilized if possible.
I have spoken with many families since my daughter’s death who have also lost their child to drowning and it seems we all had this false sense of security. At that point, all I can do is try and be a person that they can talk to who understands exactly how they feel. On the other end, I try to tell my story to anyone who is thinking about getting a pool or has a pool. Childhood drowning can happen to anyone with or without a pool. Swimming pools attract children. Pool owners need to be educated to secure their pools, as it could be a neighborhood child who could get into their yard and accidentally drown. I want to be a person who lets them know they need to do more. That could save at least one child and set of parents from this pain I feel, and it helps me to live the rest of my life without my daughter.