Richard Chew, a lifeguard at the municipal pier in San Clemente, now has a good answer for anyone wondering why his city would need to staff the lifeguard tower in wintertime. Earlier this month, he plunged into the ocean to guide a 13-month-old boy and his baby-sitter to safety after the toddler had fallen through a space in the pier rail while chasing birds.
This was a story with a happy ending, made possible by a quick-thinking baby-sitter, Colleen Logsdon, who just happened to have been a lifeguard once herself. She jumped into the surf to rescue Felipe Muddah and managed to keep the coughing youngster above water until the lifeguard arrived.
But this story might not always play out again so happily at the piers along Orange County’s coastline. Alert parents who have toddlers will recognize in this tale their own fears come true. You don’t have to look far along the waterfront--at piers in San Clemente, Balboa Peninsula and Seal Beach, for example--to find railings where a little one could slip through. For that matter, the same is true at upper levels and stairwells of shopping malls, health clubs and other structures.
While many railings will keep bigger children and adults from going off the deep end, this isn’t always so for the adventurous toddler.
Parents who are sensitized to such dangers can help by calling trouble spots to the attention of city halls or building managements. The best remedy of all is an ounce of child-proofing prevention at construction time.