Experts are urging people to be cautious after a one-year-old boy drowned in "a momentary lapse of supervision" Saturday night in his family's pool in Wrentham, Massachusetts.
Wrentham Police Chief Bill McGrath confirms the boy, Angelo Nicoloro, was pronounced dead at Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, after he drowned in the Hillside Drive above-ground pool just after 8 p.m.
"It only takes a few seconds for a curious little child to take advantage of that opening," the police chief said. "You have to put yourself into the mind of a little kid. He sees everyone having fun all day long in that pool. He associated that pool with fun."
Angelo, one of seven children, was with several other kids and family members who had gathered for a barbecue on Father's Day weekend, when he slipped out of his family's sight for less than 10 minutes.
Angelo was under water for only a short time before family members noticed and called 911, but it was too late, McGrath said. Family and paramedics tried to revive the child, performing CPR before police arrived on scene, but their life-saving measures were unsuccessful.
McGrath called the incident "a momentary lapse of supervision," nothing the pool was a bit away from where the family had gathered. The police chief also renewed his warning that swimming pools can be incredibly dangerous.
“I’ve done this before, and my message is the same: the swimming pool in the yard is like having a bonfire in the yard," McGrath said. "It’s a dangerous thing when it’s unattended.”
Forensic drowning expert Gerry Dworkin said pool gates "need to be self-closing and self-latching and they need to accommodate a locking mechanism." While stopping kids from sneaking into a pool is important, there are other critical safeguards, according to Dworkin.
"There needs to be a designated water watcher," Dworkin said.
The water safety expert said many drownings have a lot in common and that drowning is actually difficult to spot.
"Typically they're under the care of one or both parents. Typically, they're out of sight for less than five minutes. And typically, there was no expectation that the child would be in the water," he said. "Unlike what we see on television and in the movies, drowning victims don't scream and call for help."
The Norfolk District Attorney's office says they're investigating the incident, but it is not deemed suspicious at this time.