By John Saccenti, Staff Writer
PLAINSBORO — A 12-year-old boy from Queens, New York, who was visiting relatives in Plainsboro, drowned in their backyard pool Tuesday, police said.
According to police, Robert Yang was in the in-ground pool of the Partridge Court home at about 4 p.m. when he apparently slipped from the shallow end of the pool into the deep end and was unable to stay afloat.
Police said a 10-year-old cousin, who was also in the pool, alerted a 33-year old aunt who initially thought Robert was playing around. Several minutes later, she discovered him under water and unresponsive. The aunt and another family member pulled the boy out of the pool and called 911.
Patrol officers responded and began performing CPR on the boy, who was not breathing. Plainsboro Township EMS also responded and transported the boy to the University Medical Center at Princeton where he was pronounced dead at 5:29 p.m.
Plainsboro detectives responded to the scene and after extensive interviews with the family determined the death to be accidental and said the boy probably did not know how to swim. The exact amount of time the victim was under water could not be determined. An autopsy is pending by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office.
In response to this and similar incidents in recent weeks, Allison Blake, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, issued a statement urging parents and caregivers to be vigilant when children are around water.
”These tragedies are a sad reminder that we should never, ever, leave a child unattended near water and always ensure backyard swimming pools are child-proof,” Ms. Blake said. “Drowning is a leading cause of preventable child death every year, and with the summer season just getting under way, parents need to know water accidents can occur in a matter of minutes, and children can drown in just a few inches of water, often without any splashing or screaming.”
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under 14. Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools, and, in most cases, those children had been in the care of their parents and out of sight for less than five minutes, according to the statement.
This summer, DCF is running its third annual “Not Even for a Second” summer safety campaign to educate parents and caregivers about water safety and to remind them never to leave children unattended around water.
Some of the water safety tips the DCF is suggesting are:
• Always have an adult supervising young swimmers.
• Never leave a child alone around water.
• Flotation devices or inflatable toys are not substitutes for supervision.
• Teach children to swim at an early age.
• Obey all posted or verbal rules, warning signs and other safety signs at public swimming sites.
• Don’t mix alcohol and supervision of children.
• Always drain and store plastic or blow-up wading pools in an upright position.
• Enclose pools completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence, and do not leave furniture around that children can use to climb over the fence.
• Be sure to remove pool covers completely to reduce the risk of children getting caught underneath.
By John Saccenti, Staff Writer