'Lifeguards not babysitters'

LIFEGUARDS stood by and did nothing as a three-year-old boy was drowning because they thought he was 'playing dead', a Weston couple has claimed. Jennifer Slater and Andrew Smallwood, of Grasmere Drive, were enjoying a family day out at Sedgemoor Splash s

LIFEGUARDS stood by and did nothing as a three-year-old boy was drowning because they thought he was 'playing dead', a Weston couple has claimed.Jennifer Slater and Andrew Smallwood, of Grasmere Drive, were enjoying a family day out at Sedgemoor Splash swimming pool in Bridgwater. Andrew's brother and his son Daniel, who were visiting from Tamworth, were with them.While Jennifer was distracted changing her 10-month-old baby, Jordon, at the pool side, their son Joshua wandered off into the water and quickly got out of his depth and into difficulty.Jennifer, aged 21, said: "Daniel noticed that Joshua had got into the pool and was face down in the water and he rushed to help him."When I realised what was happening I started shouting and screaming 'help me my son is drowning' but the lifeguards just stood there and did nothing."Daniel grabbed Joshua and lifted him out of the water and began smacking his back because he was choking. He brought up a lot of water."Jennifer claims the lifeguards then finally came over and told her she should have been supervising him.She said: "The lifeguard said he had noticed Joshua face down in the pool but thought he was 'playing dead' and I should have been keeping an eye on him. I could not believe what I was hearing. He could have died."These people are meant to be trained life-savers but the way they dealt with this was pathetic. "Anyone with children knows it is not always easy to watch them at all times, especially when you have a baby to look after as well. Looking out for people in difficulty is what they are paid for. It is their job."It took a 15-year-old to save my son and he is the real hero. I am so proud of him."A spokesman for Sedgemoor Splash said: "We understand the distress the family felt and are glad Joshua is in good health. Our lifeguards are fully trained and dealt with the situation accordingly. The father was in the pool at the time but not in the vicinity of where the incident occurred and he said he thought Joshua was with his mother."When Joshua got into difficulties there was an adult male stood next to and watching him. The lifeguard made the reasonable assumption that Joshua was with him. The lifeguard said that he saw Ms Slater pull the boy out of the water and raised the alarm immediately."The lifeguards are not employed to act as babysitters, they are there to save lives. We have a clear child admission policy which calls for supervision of children under five by an adult on a one-to-one basis at all times. Regrettably Joshua's parents seem to have disregarded this. "Arguably, you would not just leave a child to wander off in the middle of a shop even with shop assistants around, so why would you take such a risk in a pool which is potentially a more dangerous environment?


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