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Boy, 3, nearly drowns in pool

The youngster found a way to get inside a safety fence that surrounded the family pool.

By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003

HOLIDAY -- A 3-year-old boy got past a fence around his family's pool Sunday and nearly drowned.

The boy, identified as Devin Butler, was flown to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where spokeswoman Ann Miller said he was in guarded condition Monday evening, meaning his health still is unpredictable.

It was the second pool incident involving children this month in Pasco County. A 4-year-old Orlando girl visiting family in New Port Richey died April 8 at All Children's Hospital, six days after she was found floating in a backyard pool.

A Sheriff's Office report said Sunday's accident occurred at about 11:40 a.m. at 5650 Riddle Road in Holiday.

Devin was running from the back to the front yard while his father, Trevor Butler, and uncle, Tracy Butler, worked on a car in the driveway. The men did not see Devin for about two minutes and walked to the pool area, where they found him face up in the water, the report said.

The men jumped in the pool and revived the child, who celebrated his third birthday last week. Family members were at the hospital Monday evening and could not be reached.

There was a 4-foot baby fence around the pool. A sheriff's deputy who wrote the report said it appeared to be in working order and the gate was closed. The deputy surmised that the child could have climbed over the gate using a nearby planter.

"On the shallow end of the pool, where the baby fence is secured to a chain link fence, was a small gap between the fence and the baby fence," the report stated. "It is also possible the child could have squeezed through that opening to enter the pool."

With children returning to the water this spring, authorities said the recent incidents should serve as a reminder to adults to ensure the security of their pools.

"We live in a state that has a lot of lakes, pools, waterfront communities. The potential is there," fire rescue assistant chief Chris Alland said.

Pool safety tips

Never leave children alone in or near the pool.

Never assume someone else is watching your child. Designate a pool lifeguard at swimming parties and cookouts.

Make sure adults watching young children in the pool know CPR and can rescue a child.

Surround your swimming pool with a sturdy 5-foot fence. A second fence closer to the pool could provide added protection.

Keep rescue equipment, such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver, and a telephone by the pool.

-- Source: American Academy of Pediatrics and Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS Coalition.

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