Child drowns during Memorial Day party

A La Cañada Flintridge family was struck by tragedy on Memorial Day when a six-year-old girl drowned in her home pool during a holiday block party.

Emily Fu, a student at Paradise Canyon Elementary School, was found submerged in the family’s backyard pool at around 7:20 p.m. Efforts by paramedics to revive her failed, and she was taken to Verdugo Hills Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to L.A. County Assistant Fire Chief Bill Niccum.

Neighbors say the annual Memorial Day block party was rolling along uneventfully when Emily was discovered in the pool of her family’s home on the 4900 block of Indianola Way.

On Tuesday, friends and family arrived at the Fu residence to offer condolences and flowers.

Serene Stevning, whose son befriended Emily in their special education class, answered the door at the Fu home Tuesday morning.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “I cannot imagine how sad they are, and will be for the rest of their lives.”

Stevning said the Fu family declined comment.

The Fus’ next-door neighbors answered the door with red, teary eyes, but declined comment.

Neighbor Chuck Strand said that he doesn’t know the Fu family well, as they had moved into the neighborhood in 2010, but said the family fit into the “Norman Rockwell” feel of the Memorial Day celebration, bringing traditional Chinese food to the block party.

“Their neighbors said they were such caring parents, so careful,” Strand said. “It’s just a freak moment.”

Paradise Canyon Elementary Principal Debra Craddock said counseling staff were at the school Tuesday to support staff as they delivered the news to students. Craddock said school staffers had visited the Fu household to offer condolences, and that students had been making cards and artwork that would be delivered to the family later this week.

Niccum said that when paramedics arrived, Emily was cyanotic, meaning her skin had started to turn blue or purple, indicating a severe lack of oxygen.

“We don’t know how long she had been submerged when they pulled her up,” said Niccum. “Usually kids are pretty resilient, so I would say she might have been down longer than anyone would have thought.”

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