Friday 24 November 2017

Schoolboy (11) 'nearly drowned' in swimming pool after slide confusion - court hears

National Aquatic Centre (Photo: Google Maps)
National Aquatic Centre (Photo: Google Maps)

Saurya Cherfi

An 11-year-old schoolboy nearly drowned four years ago in a Dublin swimming pool, the Circuit Civil Court has been told.

Barrister Tracy Ennis Faherty told the court that the boy had been at the National Aquatic Centre at Snugsboro Road, Blanchardstown, in July 2011, when the accident happened.

Ms Ennis Faherty said that the boy, who was seven-year-old at the time, and his father, Gareth Mahon, took two different slides into the pool, believing that they would enter the water at the same time and place.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard that unfortunately the boy, with an address at Donomore Park, Killinarden, Tallaght, Dublin, and his father entered the water at two different areas of the pool.

The court heard that Mr Mahon, concerned about not seeing his son, went and looked for him, and saw that his son was going down under the water and coming up again slowly. He had pulled him out of the water.

Judge Groarke heard that Mr Mahon had asked a lifeguard to have a look at his son. The boy had complained of chest pain several days later and had been taken to the A&E of Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Tallaght, Dublin.

He had been diagnosed with pneumonia and water in his lungs. He had remained in hospital for a week, where he was treated for the infection, ongoing pain and anxiety. He had needed to take strong medication. 

The boy, through his father Gareth, sued the authority in charge of the centre maintenance, National Sports Campus Development Authority, of Top Floor, Block A, West End Office Park, Blanchardstown and also NSCDA (Operations) Ltd, of IIS Building, National Sports Campus, Abbotstown, Dublin, for negligence and breach of duty.

It was claimed the defendants had failed to observe him properly as he entered the water and also failed to notice he had been struggling under the water. It was also claimed the defendants had failed to carry out adequate examination on him and to call the emergency services to have him assessed.

The court heard that liability might have been an issue if the case went to a full hearing.  Ms Ennis Faherty, who appeared with Colm O’Cochlain & Co solicitors, said the defendants had made a €21,000 settlement offer in the case.

Approving the offer, Judge Groarke said the boy’s frightening accident was every parent’s worst nightmare.

Hearing that he had developed a fear of water, he said he hoped the little boy, who “looked like a happy and fine young man” would soon go back to swimming. 

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