No Lifeguard At Pool In Norfolk Where Girl Drowned

26 July 2017, 12:30

Hard 201 for lifeguards

A seven-year-old girl drowned at her best friend's birthday pool party while there was no lifeguard on duty, an inquest heard.

Maya Kantengule was found at the bottom of the swimming pool at Waveney River Centre holiday park in Burgh St Peter, Norfolk on May 1 2016, an inquest in Norwich heard on Wednesday.

Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said Maya was retrieved from the pool but was declared dead later that day at the James Paget University Hospital near Great Yarmouth.

Maya's father Livial Kantengule, who was at the hearing with his wife Glenda, said in a written statement that it was the birthday party of his daughter's best friend, who had moved to a different school. 

He said the invitation asked for children to be dropped off at 10.45am, they would swim, have lunch, play outside and be ready for collection around 1.30pm.

Mr Kantengule said he spoke to Jane Rainer, the mother of his daughter's best friend, as he arrived and decided not to wait at the pool during the party as it was mostly girls and mothers, and his wife was at work. 

As he was driving home he had several missed calls on his phone, and returned there with his wife after receiving a message that there had been an accident.

Maya had already been taken to hospital and was pronounced dead as they were at her bedside.

"I was aware that Maya could swim but neither myself or my wife had ever seen her swim,'' he said.

He said he did not ask if there was a lifeguard, and Mrs Rainer did not mention anything.

"When Jane's daughter was at Dell Primary School, Jane used to volunteer to help with the swimming lessons, so we assumed Maya would be adequately supervised while in the pool,'' he said.

He added that Mrs Rainer's daughter was the only friend they would allow Maya to go and visit.

 

They would visit each other every few weeks and Maya had previously been on a boat trip with the girl, among other days out.

 

Maya, who was born in Middlesbrough, lived in Smith's Walk, Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, Suffolk and attended Dell Primary School.

 

Jaqueline Bell, a teaching assistant at the school, said in a written statement that Maya started weekly swimming lessons in reception year, and spent around 10 to 15 minutes in the water each time. This was for a few months of the year while the pool was open.

 

``She was nervous in the water and would use armbands and a wobble,'' she said.

 

``There was always an adult with the children in the pool and they would encourage her to take her feet off the bottom.

 

``She could take her feet off the bottom with support but couldn't do it on her own.

 

``The last time Maya would have swum was July 2015.''

 

Chris Coker, environmental health officer at South Norfolk Council, told the inquest that the indoor pool at Waveney River Centre could be privately hired.

 

He said it was L-shaped, 12m (40ft) long, 9m (30ft) at its widest and 1.5m (5ft) at its deepest.

 

He said signs were up stating there were no lifeguards on duty, that people swim at their own risk and should not do so if they are not a confident swimmer.

 

The inquest, expected to last two days, continues.