Singapore resident, Mr Ler Choon Siong, 54, is suing Sport Singapore, the lifeguard, and the swimming coach for the death of his six-year-old daughter Sherlyn Ler. The child passed away in a drowning incident on December 20, 2017, at 7.15 pm.
She was attending swimming class under a coach and was found floating on her back and unconscious at the teaching pool of Kallang Basin Swimming Complex (KBSC). The case brought focus on the swimming pool safety guidelines that were neglected in this unfortunate incident.
Mr Ler Choon Siong is seeking damages from Sport Singapore and lifeguard Firdaus Rajatmarican, along with lifeguard Law Kum Wah and coach Yeo Chwee Chuan. The lawsuit alleges negligence and failure to ensure reasonable safety at the swimming pool facilities.
Defendants Claim Mother Should Be Held Partly Accountable For Negligence
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Meanwhile, the four defendants have alleged that the girl’s mother was present at the site at the time of the incident, should also be held accountable for negligence. The High Court now needs to decide if a parent can be partly blamed for the inadequate supervision of the six-year-old at the swimming that led to her death.
The coroner’s report on the death stated that Sherlyn died due to the lack of oxygen and blood flowing to the brain. Lifeguard Wah and coach Chuan extracted her from the pool. Following efforts to revive her, Sherylyn spent the next two weeks at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and passed away on January 9, 2018.
In her 2019 report, state coroner Kamala Ponnampalam rapped the lifeguards and the swimming coach in her findings. The report called Sherlyn’s death a ‘tragic misadventure.’
“It is likely that (Sherlyn) encountered difficulty when she was left to swim alone in the middle of the teaching pool. This went undetected by both the swimming coach and the lifeguards deployed and she was only subsequently discovered in an unresponsive state by a group of children using the pool,” said the coroner’s report.
Sport SG Should Be Held Responsible For Oversight, Says Father
The trial for the lawsuit will likely begin in June this year. All four defendants are contesting the claims. The father also believes that Sport Singapore should be held responsible for overseeing and managing the swimming complex.
It failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to avoid the foreseeable injury to Sherlyn, who was a visitor to the pool. The lawsuit also alleges that both lifeguards were not stationed at the lifeguard post at the time of the incident and failed to spot and react to Sherlyn, who was in distress. This means they failed to fulfil their common law duty.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the coach, Mr Yeo, failed to ensure Sherlyn was within his line of sight and at a safe distance from him at all times during the swimming class. The Ler family is seeking compensation for the medical and related expenses and damages for future allowances for the parents when the girl turned 21, had she survived.
The courts will decide the quantum payable after the liability has been established during the course of the trial.
Swimming Pool Safety Guidelines
Swimming is great when it takes place in a safe environment. There can’t be a compromise on safety at both private and public swimming pool, especially when they are accessed by children. Here are a few guidelines that swimming pool owners need to follow at all times:
All swimming pools need an alarm that is loud enough to be heard far away from the swimming pool
Children only swim in the presence of an adult
Lifeguards are present on the post at all times when the children are in the pool
All pools need to have floaters, life jackets and a first aid kit around the pool
Safety Tips To Follow When Your Child Is Swimming
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1. Keep an eye on your child at all times
While there may be lifeguards and swimming coaches around, make sure that you keep your eyes glued on your child at all times. There needs to be someone supervising the children at all times.
Floaters are not substitutes for lifeguards, so do not rely on them completely in the pool.
2. Enrol kids in swimming classes at an early age
Teaching your child swimming at an early age will help them find better control when swimming as they grow older. Some parents teach their child swimming from as early as the age of one. For lessons at an early age, look for classes that offer one-to-one coaching for the undivided attention of the instructor.
If your child is relaxed in the water, he will be able to react quickly and swim to the side of the pool, in case he starts drowning.
3. Do not swim beyond your abilities
It’s easy for children to get carried and try their swimming skills in the deep end of the pool. This puts the child’s life is at risk as may or may not know to handle the deep waters.
Always be assertive and make your child aware of the depth markings around the pool. Know which parts are comfortable for him to float or swim. With enough practice and coaching, your child will be able to swim in open waters.
4. Hydrate regularly
Swimming is an extremely physical activity and can dehydrate your child, despite spending time in the water. Makes sure you carry a bottle of water for your child and have sips at regular intervals to avoid dehydration.
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5. Be careful when getting in and out of the pool
Several accidents occur when kids are trying to get in and out of the swimming pool. Always use the handrail when you want to access the pool. This ensures that your child does not slip and hurt himself by accident.
News Source: The Straits Times