Pool where Boise boy drowned was fenced

Arrival of warm weather prompts renewed calls to heed water safety recommendations.

jsowell@idahostatesman.comJune 15, 2013 

Six-year-old Mohamed Hassan hopped onto his bicycle early Wednesday evening and rode through a park at the Arbor Crossing Apartments in the Collister neighborhood. His attention was drawn to the complex's swimming pool, which had opened for the season earlier that day.

His mother, Fatuma, had asked Mohamed to wait for her to take care of her baby and then she would go outside with him. Mohamed was impatient, however, and he went outside by himself.

"She walked out and looked for him on his bike but was unable to see him," Dadiri Nuro, Fatuma's husband and Mohamed's father, said Friday. "Then she heard someone yelling 'Someone died! Someone died!' She went to look."

Several other residents outside their apartments ran to the pool. It took Fatuma several moments to realize the boy face-down in the water in the pool was her son.

Dadiri is a native of Somalia who has lived in the United States since 2004.

Mohamed, who would have attended first grade this fall, was described as a good boy who enjoyed life.

"He liked to play and jump around. He also liked to ride his bike," Nuro said.

Ray Reid, who was one of the first adults to reach the pool after learning there was a body in it. He had nodded off while watching TV but woke with a start when his 10-year-old son came inside and screamed that someone was drowning.

"I can't sleep and I've had nightmares," Reid said. "It's been hard to deal with this."

Reid performed CPR on Mohamed in an attempt to revive the boy and to get water out of his lungs. A Boise police officer and other emergency personnel took over when they reached the scene.

Reid's wife, Heidi, said the couple has made sure their son and daughter, 14, learned how to swim. Their 3-year-old daughter will learn when she's older.

The water in the pool was murky, Ray Reid said. That made it hard for people to realize Mohamed was in the pool and was in trouble.

"If someone had seen that boy face-down, I guarantee you they would have acted," Heidi Reid said.

The pool has been closed since the incident. A pool maintenance company was at the complex Friday adding chemicals and doing other work.

It was unclear Friday how Mohamed got inside the fence. Lynn Hightower, spokeswoman for the Boise Police Department, could not be reached for comment.

A locked gate controls access but Ray and Heidi Reid said children were able to push their finger through a release and open the gate.

A message left with the apartment complex office was not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

SUPERVISION, LIFE JACKETS AMONG KEY ADVICE

Nearly 4,000 people die from drowning each year across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Another 5,800 are treated and survive.

Idaho has the second-highest unintentional drowning rate in the nation for children up to age 5. No officials from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare with expertise in that area were available Friday to explain why the state's rate is high.

The agency encourages parents to keep an eye on their children while swimming and advises fencing off pools and other swimming areas to prevent children from inadvertently getting in. Wear life jackets, its officials say, and swim only in areas where lifeguards are on duty.

The American Red Cross, which trains lifeguards and other water safety officials, cautions people to never swim alone and to never trust a child to keep another child safe around water. The Red Cross also urges adults to avoid distractions when supervising children who are swimming or playing around water.

For folks who float the Boise River, there are four rest stops between Barber Park and Ann Morrison Park. Signs alert floaters to the spots about 100 yards before each one.

The Health and Welfare warns people not to swim in irrigation canals. The water can be swift and canals have sloped sides that make getting out difficult.

Idaho law requires rafts, kayaks and canoes to carry a life jacket for each person on board. Children 14 and younger are required to wear a life jacket aboard any vessel 19 feet or shorter. Boise police urge river floaters older than 14 who are not strong swimmers to also wear a life jacket.

John Sowell: 377-6423

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