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Toddler Dies in Swimming Pool Accident


Justin Vargas-Smith, 3, died after a backyard swimming pool accident at a relative’s home. According to a news report in The Tribune News. Justin was playing near the above ground pool at a residence in the 100 block of Vine Street on May 4, 2013 when he fell in. Police say the boy and his family members had just returned from a local park where they had been celebrating a birthday.

Ten minutes after unloading the car, Justin’s mother came out of the house looking for her son. She found him submerged under the solar cover of the pool. Attempts to resuscitate Justin were unsuccessful. He was transported to an area hospital where he died. Justin’s parents have been identified as Brittany Vargas and Justin Smith. Police are investigating this tragic drowning incident.

Swimming Pool Accident Statistics

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths for young children ages 1 to 4. For toddlers (children ages 1 to 4), swimming pools pose the greatest risk of submersion injury. Nonfatal drowning can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functions (vegetative state).

Preventing These Tragedies

With Memorial Day quickly approaching, so is summer and the swimming season. It is absolutely essential to take every possible safety measure to ensure that our children are safe:

• Pool fencing: Proper pool fences can significantly reduce the risk of drowning. More than half of all swimming pool drowning incidents involving young children can be prevented by four-sided fencing that completely separates the pool from the house and the yard. These fences should be at least 4 feet high and have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of children’s reach.

• Swimming lessons: Knowing how to swim can help prevent drowning. But young children should be supervised at all times even if they know how to swim.

• Life jackets: Inexperienced swimmers benefit from wearing properly fitted life jackets and using water rings, tubes or noodles for flotation support.

• Supervision: Adults should supervise children not only to ensure that they are safe in the water, but also to prevent unintended pool access.

Liability in Swimming Pool Accidents

It is the responsibility of homeowners to keep the swimming pool area safe. Our California personal injury lawyers have handled several cases involving swimming pool accidents, where a negligent homeowner or caregiver is involved.

If a swimming pool accident occurs on your property or on your watch, you could be held liable for the injuries or wrongful death. Please make sure you take all the necessary safety steps this summer to prevent a tragic swimming pool accident from occurring – whether it’s on your property or someone else’s. Have a safe summer!

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