A 4-year-old Stanton boy drowned in his backyard pool Tuesday night after wandering away from the rest of the family, according to an article published in The Orange County Register.
Jose Ornelas went missing just before 9 p.m. while at least one of the boy’s parents and several other children were in the home in the 7700 block of Yorkshire Avenue, officials told the Register. Family members began searching the house and back yard and found the boy at the bottom of the pool. Firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County sheriff’s deputies went to the home but were unable to revive the boy, who wasn’t breathing when he left the house, according to the article.
Jose was taken to the West Anaheim Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Officials said that there was no fence around the pool. The Sheriff’s Department homicide unit is investigating the death, which is a standard procedure for any suspicious death, but officials said that it was most likely an accidental drowning. This is the third Orange County pool drowning in two months. Last month, a 2-year-old boy and his 21-month-old cousin died after falling in a murky backyard pool in Garden Grove.
Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children younger than 5, officials say. An average of nine people a day drowned in the U.S. in 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California once led the nation in drownings, but that number has dropped since lawmakers have toughened state laws and local ordinances to prevent drownings in backyard pools and spas. Furthermore, the Swimming Pool and Safety Act enacted Jan. 1 requires swimming pools in new and remodeled homes to be equipped with additional safety features such as a fence or a secured gate.
Although there are many laws and municipal ordinances in place, they are very rarely enforced. Which city code enforcement officer has the time or the inclination to knock on doors and make sure that these safety procedures are followed? Ultimately, it’s up to each one of us to keep our children safe. And remember, if you care for other children and they drown in your pool on your watch, you will be held liable. Please visit the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics for some useful tips from on how to avoid these tragic incidents. Summer is almost here and we will see an increase in the number of pool and spa drownings in California. Remember, you can prevent it from happening.
If you have questions about liability for a drowning or near drowning, call me, John Bisnar, 800-259-6373.