coming back alive
A Mother's Plea

On the morning of May 30, my son woke up about 7:00 a.m. and his first words were "Mommy, I was a very good boy, can I go on my play day?" With as much excitement as he had II said "Yes."

My husband set off on his morning errands and told my son Julian he would be back soon and take him for his play day.

About 10:30 a.m., my husband called to say he was on his way and while we were talking, somehow the car went dead. I realized at that point there probably would be no play day for Julian.

I called his friend's parents to say he would not be able to come. The father informed me that his wife was out running errands and he would call me back.

Five minutes later the mother called from her cell phone. She was just around the corner from our house. She arrived and picked Julian up and told me not to worry about anything, he would be fine and she would be happy to bring him home.

I was overjoyed for him as he ran to her car, as I had never seen him so happy.

At about 2:05 p.m. the phone rang, my daughter answered and had the strangest look on her face. I immediately took the phone from her and found myself talking to the mother of the child Julian was with and she was screaming at me, "Call my house, Call my house, he wouldn't listen."

I could not imagine what was going on, then it occurred to me that she was not home.

I immediately hung up and called her home and the phone was answered by police officers, who told me that my son had had an accident in the pool and paramedics were working on him.

We were further informed that he would be airlifted to the local hospital and we could go there. Police officers came and picked us up and took us to the hospital.

Upon our arrival the first people we saw were a chaplain and a social worker. It was at that moment that I knew my precious baby boy was gone.

We were led into a room to see him. His body was frozen, his lips were purple, his hair wet and his breath smelled of vomit.

Never have I felt so much pain in all my life. I remember praying to God on the way to the hospital "Please God, let him be in a coma, anything, just let him be alive.

We waited at the hospital for hours until police officers arrived to explain the exact circumstances of Julian's drowning.

We were informed that the parents had left Julian, as well as their two other children, ages three and five, to attend a movie and had entrusted the childrens' care to a maid. They had a pool right outside the back door of their residence, which was neither fenced properly, nor covered. In addition, their maid could not swim.

I will never understand what I have just written, it still makes no sense to me. How could they have such little regard for my son? Why would they invite him over to play and not be home? Why wasn't their pool safe? Why did they leave those children with someone who could not protect them? Why? Why? Why?

All we have now are the wonderful memories of a beautiful angel that came to visit us for six years.

Julian had a loose tooth and was very excited about the tooth fairy coming soon. But he never got a chance to lose that tooth, as well as a million other "never got to's".

Love and cherish your children everyday. Hug them, kiss them, keep them near to you, but most of all watch them carefully. You never know when the day will come that you will blow them kisses and tell them to have a great time, whether or not it will be the last time.

child swimming
Julian was a happy child who looked forward to losing his teeth.

You are responsible, whenever you take someone else's child into your care.

Children should be looked after and watched carefully, because sometimes they don't always listen, that's what makes them children.

That seems like a common sense statement, something that goes without saying, I thought.

child swimming
The majority of backyard pool victims are children, particularly young children and toddlers under 5.

Most of these young children were not adequately supervised by an adult when they died.

They fall into backyard pools, rivers, lakes and bathtubs, even if the lapse in supervision was only for an instant.

68% of young victims under five years of age were alone when they drowned and 64% were playing near water when they fell in

Always Supervise Children Near Water

If you're not within arm's reach, you've gone too far.

Toddlers two to four years of age have the second highest water-related death rate of any age group.

  • Teach your children to swim at an early age, so they will be comfortable in the water.
  • Don't ever leave them alone, even if just for a minute. In the time it takes to answer the phone, check on dinner, or go to the washroom, your child could sink silently to the bottom of your pool.

  • Don't rely on swimming lessons, or "floaties" to protect your child.

  • Know CPR! This can mean the difference between life and death for your child.

Child-Proof Your Yard

Don't leave toys or other objects that might attract a child near the pool.

Make sure your yard has a self-locking gate. Ideally, it should be fenced on all 4 sides.

If there is access to the pool area from the house, make sure you have multiple barriers and locks in place that a youngster cannot open. Children are more nimble than you might think.

Consider purchasing an audio pool alarm. It will alert you whenever someone enters the water.




Logan Mestas and his brother, Austin Esker, were inseparable. They rode bikes together, played side-by-side at the neighborhood park and got into little-boy mischief as a team.

And together, they both walked into the murky green water of the same swimming pool.

But as relatives pulled Logan's limp body from the pool's shallow end, Austin sank, undetected for at least 10 more minutes, into the depths at the other end.

"This is a tragedy," said Andrew Mestas, Logan's uncle. "These are two babies that had their whole lives ahead of them."

Austin was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was only four. Logan, two, was in critical condition and was taken to the hospital. He was taken off of life support three days later and died shortly thereafter

The boys drowned in their grandmother's murky pool.

Rescuers were called to the home after an uncle pulled Logan from his grandmother's pool and began to perform CPR. Paramedics were trying to get the little boy to breathe, when someone asked a question that made every heart skip a beat: "Where's the other little boy at?"

"Oh dear God," said a deputy chief from the Phoenix Fire Department. Your first instinct is, 'Do you have another kid down there?' " They went right to the water, and, unfortunately, their worst fears were realized.

"This is just devastating." Police and firefighters used pool nets and brushes to poke through the water. It was so dirty, it was like trying to look through smoke.Rescuers couldn't see more than a foot down.

Soon, Austin's body floated to the surface.

The boy's grandmother told firefighters she hadn't seen Logan for about 20 minutes before he was found in the pool. Andrew Mestas said about 10 kids were playing outside nearby and another uncle, working on an addition to his home, was 20 feet away from the fenced pool, but didn't hear anything. A padlock kept the pool from latching closed. Little footprints in the ground showed the boys' path into the pool, Austin's smaller one's following those of his big brother.

"We just want people to be aware of their kids and watch them," Mestas said. "This could happen to anyone's family."

A Little Water, A Big Danger

Two one-year-old children tumbled headfirst into buckets in separate near-drowning incidents less than 40 minutes apart. One child died as a result of his injuries.

13-month-old Christian Alexander, fell headfirst into a bucket of water that his mother had been using to clean the floor. Christian's mother had left the bucket in the backyard with Christian and his twin brother Carlos, while she ran inside to bring out some food.

The five gallon bucket held about six inches of water. Christian remained underwater for about five minutes before he was pulled out. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but died the next day.

Although such incidents are rare, bucket drownings do occur every year, most because toddlers are top-heavy and cannot easily right themselves if they fall over. All bodies of water pose a potential hazard to a small child. Toddlers typically lack the arm strength to right themselves should they fall in.

As temperatures start rising, children are drawn to water. That means not only swimming pools, but also bathtubs, dog dishes, coolers with melted ice, buckets and toilets.

Anything with more than 2 inches of water is a potential hazard

Help Came Too Late

A nine-year-old girl drowned in a backyard pool of a Scarborough home on July 14, 2004, despite a neighbour's heroic attempt to save her. Toronto police responded just after 3 p.m. to a 911 call on a girl who was pulled out of the water at a home on Blue Eagle Tr., near Midland and Finch Aves. She was pronounced dead at Scarborough Grace hospital less than two hours later.

The girl was playing in the shallow end with two other children, who lived in the house, when she slipped on a "fairly steep grade" that led to the deep end, said Toronto Police Detective Scott Whittemore of 42 Division. One of the children, an eight-year-old boy, alerted the drowned girl's grandmother, who was "steps away" in the house, Whittemore said.

None of the house's occupants could swim, he said, adding that the death was accidental. "There was an adult in the house, but (the girl) slipped so quickly that nobody noticed her going in except the small boy," Whittemore said. "He was the one who alerted everyone."

Yuning Liu, 32, was at his house next door when he heard a commotion coming from their backyard. He looked out his bedroom window to the adjacent backyard - which seemed normal - so he wasn't too concerned.

A few minutes later, he heard a frantic knock. The grandmother from next door started speaking Cantonese, which he couldn't understand because he knew only Mandarin, but he knew something was wrong.

"The way she was talking, I thought it was urgent," Liu said. When he followed the grandmother to the backyard, he saw the girl at the bottom of the pool, face-up in the eight-foot deep end. He pulled her out, but she wasn't breathing, Liu said. He called 911 and, with his basic training and the operator's help, Liu began applying CPR. "I thought there was still hope because water came out."

The girl, an only child, was in the pool for nearly five minutes before Liu tried to save her, police estimate. The first ambulance arrived on the scene about seven minutes after the call, said Bruce England of Emergency Medical Services.

Liu said he asked the grandmother why she didn't call 911 before she knocked on his door. He said the grandmother told him she couldn't speak English and she thought that the operator wouldn't understand Cantonese. But an EMS official said 911 operators have on-call translators around the clock. They also use an international language service in case they don't have anybody who speaks a language.

When told that the girl had died, Liu hit the back of his head against the wall and tears welled up.

"I wish if I came five minutes earlier, I could save her," Liu said. "I feel very sad today."

pool fence & child
The scene of the tragedy.