POOL SAFETY: A coroner has ruled a toddler’s death was preventable if the pool gate had not been propped open.
POOL SAFETY: A coroner has ruled a toddler’s death was preventable if the pool gate had not been propped open. DAVE HUNT

Toddler’s drowning death to go unpunished

A CORONER has decided not to recommend criminal charges for the person who propped open a pool gate which resulted in the drowning death of a toddler.

He found there was a miscommunication between family members about who was watching the toddler while the mother changed a tyre on her car about 20m away.

The toddler, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, drowned on March 20, 2015 at his uncle's home at Regency Downs, about 45km west of Ipswich.

A hearing held over two days in November and December heard the toddler was playing in his uncle's Hewett Dr yard before wandering over to where the in-ground pool was.

The pool was being drained and was only about a third full with untreated, dirty water.

The pool's gate had been propped open with a piece of timber.

The toddler's mother found her son a short time later face down and unresponsive in the water.

The 15-month-old had no pulse, no heartbeat, was limp and unconscious.

The toddler was taken to Ipswich Hospital in a critical condition but his life support was turned off the following day.

Coroner John Lock said the toddler knew how to swim but it was likely he fell into the pool, hit his head and became unconscious.

He said the toddler drowned in 31cm of water and his death was preventable.

"This death highlights that even when a swimming pool is in a state of disuse or it is not expected that children will be visiting or using the pool, vigilance in preventing access by children to the pool must be maintained at all times," he said.

"Deaths continue to occur because of deliberate breaches of the pool safety laws by placing obstacles in front of gates, which effectively renders useless the safety features intended by pool fencing and compliant gates in the first place."

The toddler's death bore stark similarities with the death of Gold Coast boy William Corben, 4, who died earlier this year.


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