MONTGOMERY, ALA – A woman and her grandson died last week from drowning injuries they received in a Montgomery apartment complex swimming pool Tuesday morning.
The Montgomery police said Rosie Lee Arrington, 39, and her grandson were found unresponsive in the pool of the Courtyard CitiFlats apartment on S. McDonough near downtown Montgomery. Ms. Arrington was taken to Jackson hospital, where she was pronounced dead just before noon on Tuesday. The boy, whose name has not yet been released, was taken to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham with life-threatening injuries but died from his injuries on Wednesday.
Authorities investigating the deaths say they appear to be accidental. No evidence of foul play has been found.
Ms. Arrington and her grandson were the second pair to die in an unattended swimming pool in a Montgomery apartment complex this season. On April 23, brothers Victor Garcia, 7, and Cristubal Basurto Garcia, 5, were found dead in the swimming pool at Cyprus Court Apartments, where they resided with their parents.
Drowning deaths such as these are especially tragic because they are preventable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the leading factors influencing drowning risk is the presence of supervision and physical barriers.
“When children aren’t supposed to be in the water, supervision alone isn’t enough to keep them safe,” the CDC says in explaining the importance of surrounding swimming pools with a fence, gate, or other barrier that will help keep children out of the pool. “Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time,” the CDC said.
The Municipal Code in Montgomery, Alabama, requires that all swimming and wading pool areas should be enclosed by a fence, wall or screen enclosure at least 44 inches tall, with a lockable gate. There also are regulations about any openings in the enclosure, which cannot be any wider than would allow the passage of a six-inch diameter sphere.
These measures are required for all pools at commercial and private residences alike. Authorities have not yet said whether the Courtyard CitiFlats apartment pool met these municipal requirements.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), 90 children younger than 15 drowned in swimming pools just since Memorial Day. Another 106 children in the same age group were treated for near-drowning injuries in the same period of time. Statistically, many of the surviving children sustain debilitating lifelong injuries.
An average of 390 children younger than 15 drown every year in swimming pools and spas, according to CPSC data. More than 13 times that number of children sustain submersion-related injuries each year.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children up to 14 years old in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death overall.