5-year-old's drowning in Sentosa hotel adult pool 'an accident'

A section of the adult pool at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort, where a five-year-old boy drowned in February, has seen three other close shaves over a year.

Police incident records showed that between April last year and April this year, there were three near-drownings there - all involving foreign children.

Chinese national Liu Bingzheng drowned after he strayed from the children's pool into the adult pool. The 1.24m-tall boy was playing in the 0.65m-deep wading pool on Feb 6 this year, while his mother took pictures of him by the poolside.

Shortly after, she realised that she could not hear his voice and went to look for him.

She found him floating face-down in the 1.2m-deep adult pool and called for help.

Rasa Sentosa lifeguard Deveanraj Ramachenderan, 20, spotted the boy in the adult pool at about 8.45pm and jumped in to save him.

As the boy was still breathing and had a pulse, no cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was done. Instead, Mr Deveanraj and another lifeguard placed defibrillation pads and an oxygen mask on him.

About 15 minutes later, paramedics found the boy had neither a pulse, nor was he breathing. His lips had also turned blue.

Manual CPR was performed immediately. While performing CPR, the paramedics found vomit in his airways. Despite resuscitative efforts, the boy was pronounced dead at about 10pm.

In his findings yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay said the Life Saving Society of Singapore's general manager Alfred Chua had felt the water safety signs were not strategically placed, and some could not be seen in the dark.

Among the signs at the entrances to the pool was one stating that children under 12 must be accompanied by adults at all times.

The adult pool is separated from the children's pool by an ankle-deep walkway. Because of the way the pool complex is shaped, there are also a number of blind spots. The hotel's head of pool security had earlier testified that the general area was a "hot spot for accidents".

Rasa Sentosa Resort has since implemented measures to bolster pool safety, such as deploying up to five lifeguards and advising parents to put life jackets on their kids who are not water-safe when collecting their towels.

Coroner Bay said parents and providers of swimming and water play facilities must be vigilant when children are in the water.

He found the boy's death to be an accident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2015, with the headline '5-year-old's drowning in Sentosa hotel adult pool 'an accident''. Print Edition | Subscribe