Tustin Pool : Near-Drowned Toddlers Suffer Brain Damage

Times Staff Writers

Three toddlers who fell into a north Tustin pool while under the care of a baby sitter are expected to survive but will suffer severe brain damage for the rest of their lives, doctors said today.

The children, all under 2 years old, are attached to life-support systems but their conditions have stabilized.

“I think they will all live,” said Dr. Stephen Johnson, director of the pediatrics intensive care unit at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, “but they will live with severe brain damage.”

Johnson said there was no likelihood of brain death but stressed all three youngsters will suffer varying degrees of severe brain damage. To what extent, he said, has yet to be determined.


He said the children will probably be slowly weaned off life support once the brain swelling has subsided.

The children were under the care of a baby sitter at a home in north Tustin on Thursday when they apparently wandered to a back yard pool and fell in, police said. (Story, Part I, Page 1.) Johnson speculated that the toddlers fell into the pool together and had been submerged in the water “from five to 15 minutes” before being pulled out by the owner of the house, Orvel Brooks.

Police are investigating the Brooks family to determine if they had a license to run a day-care operation.

Two of the children, Melissa Dianne Polsfoot, 19 months, of Tustin and Jonathon Derek Weson, 22 months, of north Tustin were being treated at Western Medical Center, while the other child, Arthur Matthew Griese, 14 months, of Orange was hospitalized at Childrens Hospital of Orange County.


In a morning press conference, Johnson, speaking on the conditions of all three children, said brain damage can begin occurring after submerged in water only five minutes.