Hotel drownings 'inherently preventable'

The swimming pool at Orchard Parade Hotel.
The swimming pool at Orchard Parade Hotel. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Drownings in hotel swimming pools are "inherently preventable", State Coroner Marvin Bay said yesterday as he gave his findings on the deaths of two students in February.

Martial arts student Wu Jintang, 15 - a non-swimmer - jumped into the 3m-deep end of Orchard Parade Hotel's pool on Feb 12 after he and his friends ignored instructions to go to their rooms, and signs stating "No lifeguard on duty".

As their school in China did not have a swimming pool, most of the students could not swim and stayed at the 1.2m shallow end.

The court was told that it took 10 minutes for his classmates to notice him lying at the bottom of the pool before he was pulled out.

Hotel staff performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him and also used the automated external defibrillator (AED).

The teenager was later pronounced dead at KK Women's and Children's Hospital at 11.10pm.

In another case, 12-year-old Yao Junjie, also a non-swimmer, was attending a summer camp on Feb 3 when he got into difficulties in the pool at the Hotel Royal in Newton.

The China national was rescued by a receptionist and taken to hospital, but died nine days later of pneumonia and brain damage.

Coroner Bay found both deaths to be "tragic misadventures" and advised hotels to consider public swimming pools as the "gold standard" for their design, safety measures and availability of resuscitation equipment such as AEDs.

Orchard Parade Hotel has put in place new safety measures and deployed lifeguards from 7am to 10pm, among other things. Hotel Royal plans to set up a notice board to alert guests to the possible risk of drowning, among other dangers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Hotel drownings 'inherently preventable''. Print Edition | Subscribe