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Boy Hospitalized After Hot Tub Fall : Accident: Jason Nyerges, 4, was underwater for five to 15 minutes. He is in critical condition.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A 4-year-old boy was in critical condition after falling into a hot tub and sinking to the bottom for five to 15 minutes before his siblings, who were swimming in an adjacent pool, noticed his disappearance, officials said Friday.

Jason Nyerges was being taught to swim by his five older brothers and sisters when the accident occurred at 2 p.m. Thursday at their Placerita Canyon home, said Deputy Mark Wood of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. The boy had no pulse and was not breathing when deputies arrived.

“When I got there, for all practical purposes the kid was dead,” Wood said. As Wood started performing CPR, “I could feel his lungs were full of water.”

Wood and Susan Vaziri, another sheriff’s deputy, performed CPR on the child for about five minutes before firefighters arrived and took him to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, where an hour of emergency care revived him.

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The water in the hot tub was lukewarm instead of fully heated, which may have saved the toddler’s life, Wood said.

“If the water’s colder it slows down your blood circulation,” he said.

Jason was then transferred to Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Los Angeles, where he is on a respirator and listed in critical condition, said Linda Quon, a hospital spokeswoman. She said the prognosis for his recovery is uncertain.

“It takes a while to determine if there is brain damage,” she said.

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The children live with their father, who was at work when the accident occurred. The youngsters, between the ages of 13 and 6, were using the pool and hot tub while the housekeeper, Daisy Santos, was cleaning inside.

Wood said all of the children except Jason knew how to swim.

One of Jason’s brothers, Jimmy, 10, said he was getting out of the spa and thought Jason was following him, Wood said. But instead of getting out, Jason apparently reached for a toy gun at the bottom of the spa and fell into the four-foot deep water.

“He just didn’t know how to swim,” Wood said. “He probably panicked and tried to breathe and got his lungs full of water.”

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The hot tub was elevated above the pool, so Jason’s siblings couldn’t see him even though they were swimming only a few feet away, Wood added. They began searching for him after they finally realized he was missing.

Wood said he believes the child was probably underwater for seven to eight minutes, but because the family was in a panic, the actual time could have varied by several minutes.

Jason’s siblings brought him into the kitchen and laid him on the floor as Santos phoned for help, the deputy said.

Firefighters took the boy to the hospital, where after an hour of care his heartbeat and a low level of blood pressure were restored, officials said.

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. . . about the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys. B11


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