The death of an 18-month-old who drowned in a swimming pool could have been prevented if the pool was properly fenced off, a coroner says.
Othman Bsaiso died aged 18 months at his family’s home in the Auckland suburb of Epsom.
The boy was found floating face down and unresponsive in the swimming pool on the evening of November 26, 2017.
Coroner Katherine Greig said his death was “tragically … preventable”.
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“Had he not been able to access the swimming pool that day through a non-compliant gate, his death would not have occurred,” she said in her report.
The toddler was able to access the swimming pool, not pictured, through a gate with a faulty latch. (File photo)
On the night of the accident, Othman was playing outside with his siblings. When their father called them back inside, Othman was not with them.
After 10 to 20 minutes of searching, one of the children found Othman in the pool.
The pool area had not been searched at first because it was thought to be closed off, but later examination revealed the latch on the gate did not work.
Greig said the evidence suggested this was how Othman got into the pool area.
There were other failings in the fencing, including a gap under one of the gates that would have been big enough for a child to fit through, and horizontal rails less than the required 90cm apart.
Under the Building Act, both owners and tenants have a responsibility to make sure pool fencing meets requirements.
A police investigation revealed neither the property manager nor owner undertook monitoring of the pool barriers at the Epsom house, with each believing it was the responsibility of someone else.
Othman’s father Mohammad Bsaiso gave evidence saying the last time he had used the gate, two weeks before the incident, it had latched properly.
There was no information about swimming pool barrier safety in Bsaisos’ rental agreement, Greig said.
She said it was unlikely there had been any discussions about what to watch for and report, given the property manager was not aware of the legal obligations around pool barriers, and did not inspect the barriers as part of property inspections.
“The lack of knowledge and vigilance outlined above created a ‘perfect storm’,” Greig said.
The gate which was once compliant no longer met the required standard because of a lack of maintenance, she said.
Othman’s “tragic death” demonstrated the need for swimming pools to be enclosed, and for the barriers to meet requirements and be regularly monitored and maintained, the coroner said.
It also highlighted the risks of compliance “falling between the cracks” in rental properties where more than one person has responsibility for compliance.
The coroner recommended adding clauses to tenancy agreements about pool barrier safety and monitoring.