Drowning of boy, 5, at Rasa Sentosa Resort pool ruled accidental

Records showed that between April 2014 and April 2015, there were three near-drownings in the pool.
Records showed that between April 2014 and April 2015, there were three near-drownings in the pool.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILES

SINGAPORE - 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.

Chinese national Liu Bingzheng drowned after he strayed from the children's pool into the adult pool. The hotel's head of pool security had earlier testified that the general area was a "hot spot for accidents".

The adult pool is separated from the children's pool by an ankle-deep walkway.

Police incident records showed that between April 2014 and April 2015, there were three near-drownings there - all involving foreign children.

The 1.24m-tall Liu was playing in the 65cm-deep wading pool on Feb 6, 2015, 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.

Shangri-La's lifeguard Deveanraj Ramachenderan, 20, spotted the boy at 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 turned blue.

Manual CPR was performed immediately. While performing CPR, the paramedics noted vomit coming from his airways. Despite resuscitative efforts, he was pronounced dead at about 10pm.

In his findings on Thursday (Dec 24), 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 signboards at the entrances to the pool was one stating that children under 12 must be accompanied by adults at all times.

Because of the aesthetic shapes of the pool complex, there were also a number of blind spots.

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 were 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.