Tag Archives: Tom Griffiths

Cloudy Pools Prevent Drowning Detection

Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert

Recently, a rash of drownings have occurred in cloudy swimming pools which should have been closed to the public. The most recent settlement involved an eleven year old boy who had just finished playing basketball in a nearby park.

In the late afternoon following the game, the victim and his friends went to their apartment complex pool to cool off. The swimming pool was so cloudy that the bottom could not be seen; yet, the pool remained open to residents. Although no lifeguards were on duty, pool attendants were there to maintain water chemistry, check pool passes, and maintain order. The boy, who was the drowning victim, was a weak swimmer yet he asked to borrow goggles from a friend, and with the goggles in place, let go of the side of the pool, disappearing in the deep end.

While his friends soon discovered that he was missing, they were unsure whether he was in the swimming pool or if he had gone back to his apartment. After much confusion, a search of the deep end of the swimming pool was made with long extensions poles, but the boy was not found. No one entered the deep end to look for the boy because of the zero visibility. This eventually became a missing persons case because the boy did not return home by his 8 PM curfew, which he rarely missed.

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The Water Floatie Fallacy

Water Floating Devices

Floaties, such as water wings, floatation suits, noodles, and inflatable rafts or tubes are not advised for use with children if they cannot swim. Foam and inflatables are typically associated with floating; however, many can deflate, or fall off, leading a child on the surface to sink down. U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jackets are the recommended approach for children that cannot swim. To read more about how the variations in vests can be life or death, follow the link to the Aquatic Safety Newsletter, written by Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert with DJS Associates Inc., reachable by email at experts@forensicdjs.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.

Many Fitness Clubs Ill Prepared to Deal with Swimming Pool Drownings

Swimming Pool Drownings

Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert ::::

Membership Fitness Clubs have become extremely popular in America during the last couple of decades, offering all types of workouts and fitness activities during all hours of the day. But a recent case highlights the many and varied problems Fitness Clubs face when it comes to their swimming pools.

Swimming pools in most Fitness Clubs are not required to have lifeguards on duty and therefore become “Swim at Your Own Risk” pools. The problem with this approach is that when an emergency does arise in the swimming pool, there is no trained professional available in the pool area to respond in a timely fashion. It should be strongly stated that older populations are now the only age group experiencing an increase in drowning deaths.

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High School Student Drowns on River Rafting Trip

River Rafting Expert Witness

Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert ::::

Case Synopsis: A high school Senior participated on a Senior class rafting trip approximately two hours away from the school. Because he was a non-swimmer his father refused to sign the permission slip to go on the field trip. The victim wanted to go badly because his friends were going, so he forged his father’s signature and as a result, the school allowed him to attend. Although the weather was sunny and warm, the river was extremely high and fast due to heavy rains earlier in the week. All six participants in the victim’s raft removed their lifejackets shortly after launching. Soon after removing their lifejackets, the raft rode up the face of a large standing wave and all six students were ejected into the raging river. All students managed to get to shore safely except for the victim who was found dead several days later. The cause of his death was drowning.

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Autism and Drowning: Seven Year Old Child Drowns in Above Ground Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool Accident

Tom J. Griffiths, Ed. D, Aquatics Expert ::::

According to the National Autism Association, from 2009 to 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% of total U.S. deaths in children with autism ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering, and these are only the ones we know of. Of those, 23% were in the care of someone other than a parent.

In a recent drowning case involving a seven year old autistic girl, while the mother was doing errands away from their home, the young child wandered away while under the supervision of her three minor siblings. This was not her first time wandering from her home. Somehow she managed to find an above-ground swimming pool in her neighborhood located deep in the private backyard of a home which was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to observe from the street. The backyard was totally fenced in, toys were removed from the surface of the pool water so as not to attract anyone, the pool was not attached to the house, and the ladder was removed from the pool.

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Alcohol as Contributing Factor in Catastrophic Diving Accident

Diving Accident

Tom Griffiths, ED.D., Aquatics Consultant ::::

An all too common occurrence; a young adult becomes a quadriplegic while attending a late night pool party where alcohol was consumed. In this case, late at night and after consuming several drinks, the young man dives towards the transitional slope dividing the deep from the shallow end of the swimming pool. Since such a dive takes less than a second to complete, no one witnessed the dive that rendered the young man quadriplegic, which is most often true in these cases.

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