Girl who drowned in hotel pool couldn't swim

A six-year-old girl who could not swim drowned while playing in the deep end of the pool at the Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel in April, a coroner's court heard.

Neisha Sandra Karamoy, an Indonesian, had come here on holiday with her parents and an older brother, aged seven, on April 3.

The next day, at about 10am, her father, Mr Zacharias Alexander Karamoy, took Neisha and her brother to the shallow end of the pool, which was 0.8m in depth.

He sat by the pool and checked on his children from time to time, while also using his phone.

Neisha, who was 1.15m tall, played with a five-year-old Singaporean girl who was at the hotel for a staycation with her family.

The two girls were seen on closed-circuit footage venturing to the deep end of the pool - 1.2m in depth - on their own, before struggling.

An unknown woman saw the five-year-old girl waving her hands vigorously and rescued her.

At about the same time, Mr Karamoy saw his daughter lying at the bottom of the pool and jumped in to pull her out.

Hotel staff performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and Neisha was taken to hospital by ambulance. But she was later assessed to be brain dead. Her life support was discontinued on April 6 and she died shortly after.

State Coroner Marvin Bay yesterday found the girl's death to be "a tragic misadventure", noting that it "follows the sad list of drownings of young children in hotels, resorts and public pools".

They include Abdul Hannan Bakhid, three, at Tampines Swimming Complex on Jan 8; Muhammad Syafizul Danyal Shaffie, seven, at Hard Rock Hotel at Resorts World Sentosa on June 14 last year; and Liu Binzheng, five, at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort on Feb 6 last year.

Echoing his previous remarks, Mr Bay said children should be accompanied by an adult who can swim and ideally be close enough to reach the child at all times.

Secondly, because drownings can occur quickly and silently, adults should not be doing any distracting activity such as reading, chatting or using their phones.

Third, a flotation device for the child is recommended.

Fourth, swimming pools should have depth markers conspicuously and permanently displayed at all points of gradual depth change, to allow a visual cue that the child is in the shallow area, he said.

Finally, closed-circuit television cameras can aid lifeguards and, in drownings, help provide an "incontrovertible record" of events.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Girl who drowned in hotel pool couldn't swim'. Print Edition | Subscribe