SINGAPORE: A six-year-old girl who died after nearly drowning in a Sentosa hotel pool last year was left alone with a swimming float, a coroner's inquiry found on Monday (Apr 15).
Delivering her findings, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam urged adults to supervise children who cannot swim properly, even if they have some swimming ability.
Andrea Hailey Tan Yan Ying stayed at the Festive Hotel in Resorts World Sentosa in October last year with her grandmother, granduncle and her granduncle's son, the court heard.
Her father, who said his daughter could not swim at all and questioned the safety measures at the hotel pool, had dropped Andrea off at her grandmother's place for the hotel stay.
Before checking into the hotel on Oct 6, Andrea's grandmother had bought her her first swimming float. Her granduncle told the court that he believed Andrea could swim without a float as she was not afraid to enter the water and because he had taken her to another adult pool before.
On the morning of Oct 7, the family went to the swimming pool on the third floor. Andrea's granduncle took his three-year-old son and Andrea into the kids' pool, which was 0.5m deep, while Andrea's grandmother sat by the pool under a hut.
After some time, Andrea's granduncle brought the two children to the adult pool, which was 1.2m deep. Andrea's granduncle told the court during the hearing that Andrea, who was 1.18m tall, would immerse her face into the water and blow bubbles.
GRANDUNCLE TOOK SON TO OTHER POOL, LEAVING ANDREA ALONE
He left Andrea alone in the adult pool with her float and, according to court documents, took his son to the jacuzzi pool without telling Andrea that he was leaving her alone.
Andrea's grandmother noticed that something was wrong when she saw the girl's float drifting across the pool. She ran to the edge of the pool and saw her grandchild lying in a prone position, fully submerged.
The elderly woman, who said she had not known that the children had gone to the adult pool, shouted for help and Andrea's granduncle jumped in and brought the girl up.
A passer-by performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Andrea while another guest retrieved the in-house Automated External Defibrillator from the towel booth. The assistant front office manager at the hotel also administered CPR on Andrea until paramedics arrived and took her to Singapore General Hospital.
She was later transferred to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, but died 10 days later on Oct 17.
A doctor certified the cause of death as brain damage and pneumonia following near-drowning.
HOTEL PLACED RED SIGNS WARNING SWIMMERS OF LACK OF LIFEGUARDS
The coroner found "no shortcomings in the design and maintenance of the adult swimming pool at Festive Hotel".
Red signs warning swimmers of the absence of lifeguards were placed prominently around the pool, said the coroner, with emergency contact numbers on them and reminders for adults to supervise their children.
The coroner said that "what was singularly lacking was adult supervision".
"Andrea, who stood at 118cm, and who was unable to swim, was left unattended in the adult swimming pool with a depth of 1.2m," she said. "Her granduncle held the mistaken belief that she knew how to swim. He also placed faith in the swimming float to keep her safe."
The coroner urged adults to always accompany children who cannot swim when in a pool, and to keep them both within arm's reach and in their line of sight.
"A flotation device like a swimming float is not a substitute for constant, vigilant, adult supervision. The float may come dislodged and float away leaving the child stranded," she said. "Even if a child has some swimming ability, the risk of drowning is not completely removed."
She extended her condolences to Andrea's family for their loss.