Boy, 1, in Critical Condition After Near-Drowning in Pool

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 1-year-old boy was in critical condition Monday after crawling out through a dog door and falling into a back-yard swimming pool, police said.

The accident marked the 19th near-drowning of a child in Orange County in 1993, two of which have resulted in permanent brain damage. So far this year, five children have drowned in swimming pools in the county.

The toddler, whose name was not released, was found floating unconscious in the pool by his mother at 3:33 p.m., said Orange police Lt. Timm Browne .

The child was taken from the home on South Gardner Street to Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange. Authorities would not say who owned the home where the accident occurred. Details of the boy's condition were not released.

"The family had just arrived (Monday) from another state," Browne said. "The mother and another female adult in the house were extremely exhausted and inadvertently fell asleep."

While the two women slept, the toddler and his 3-year-old brother crawled out the dog door. After his brother fell in, the older child apparently crawled back into the house and woke up his mother, Browne said.

Browne said he did not know if there was a safety gate around the swimming pool.

"Children are inquisitive," Browne said. "It is important to make sure access to a pool is secure. It seems that every year, we lose a number of kids through no fault of their own or unfortunate circumstances. It seems like a horrible waste."

Pool drownings are the leading cause of accidental death for Orange County children, statistics show. Six children under 4 years of age drowned last year.

In 1991, eight local children drowned, six of them in swimming pools.

All cities in Orange County require fencing around three sides of a pool, but no fencing is required between the pool and the home.

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