Sunday 22 April 2018

Drowning boy (3) was invisible to passers-by in bubbling jacuzzi

Ronan Kennedy’s parents want safety regulations for pools
Ronan Kennedy’s parents want safety regulations for pools

Louise Roseingrave

A three-year-old boy stepped into a bubbling jacuzzi and disappeared underwater at a hotel, an inquest heard.

The little boy drowned as people walked close by, and was invisible to them in the churning water.

CCTV footage revealed the final movements of Ronan Kennedy at the Quality Hotel in Youghal, Co Cork.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that the footage showed the child from Templederry, Co Tipperary, exit the changing room and walk straight to the jacuzzi.

Ronan's parents, Bridget and John Kennedy, called on the Government to introduce regulations for swimming pools immediately. The inquest heard that pools in Ireland are unregulated with regard to safety.

"Ronan was a magical little boy. He loved to play outside, go farming and he adored his food. He was full of life, love and was extremely affectionate. This cannot happen to any other child. We ask that proper protocols be put in place regarding child safety within swimming pools," the Kennedy family said in a statement after the inquest.

Garda James Heffernan of Youghal garda station reviewed CCTV footage taken at the hotel pool on July 13, 2015.

"He walked straight ahead from the door to the lip of the jacuzzi. He stepped into the seat of the jacuzzi and then he stepped directly into the middle of the jacuzzi. Unfortunately he is not visible for a number of minutes until he drifts out into the pool where he is found."

Kids' club staff were placing armbands on children next to the pool near the reception area at the time, the court heard.

Liam Moloney was at the pool with his son and grandson when he found the child floating underwater.

"I saw this little lad, I thought he was swimming underwater at first." He noticed the child was not moving. "I touched his head and lifted him out of the pool," Mr Moloney, who raised the alarm, said.

The Kennedy family rushed to Cork University Hospital and later to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin, where Ronan was pronounced dead the following day.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane, who recorded a verdict of death by drowning, recommended there be a dedicated lifeguard on duty at all times who should not be engaged in other supervisory duties.

Irish Independent

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