The Coroner for South Lincolnshire has highlighted the dangers of garden ponds after the “terrible and tragic” death of a 19-month-old toddler.
Paul Cooper, the area’s senior coroner, urged people to “think outside the box” after an inquest into the death of Jenson Whitmore who fell into a garden pond while visiting his grandparents’ home in Gosberton Risegate on Sunday, July 10.
No one was to blame for this accident and it is quite clear to me that Jenson’s parents and grandparents did everything they couldPaul Cooper, Senior Coroner for South Lincolnshire
During the inquest at Boston Coroner’s Court last Wednesday, it was heard that Jenson had gone missing for ten minutes while his mother, father and grandfather all thought the toddler was with them.
Jenson, who lived with his parents in Peterborough, was later found face down in the pond by his mother before his father and grandfather both carried out emergency first aid.
Jenson was eventually taken to Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, and later transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, where he was kept on a ventilator in intensive care.
Medical staff at the hospital carried out tests which showed that Jenson had suffered a brain injury due to a lack of oxygen, with the toddler eventually passing away on Wednesday, July 13.
Recording a verdict of death by accident as a result of an injury to the brain, Mr Cooper said: “No one was to blame for this accident and it is quite clear to me that Jenson’s parents and grandparents did everything they could.
“It was terrible, tragic and the family are still coming to terms with it.
“Whilst I emphasise that I am not attributing any blame to family members, I do make a general observation for the public to exercise great care in relation to any garden ponds.
“Think outside the box and ask yourself ‘could this be a danger to my child?’”.
Figures from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) showed that, on average, five children under the age of six drown in garden ponds every year in the UK.
RoSPA also produced figures which showed that between 1995 and 2005, nearly 150 children under the age of six drowned at a “residential”, including 58 in a garden pond.
David Walker of RoSPA said: “Children under the age of six are most vulnerable to drowning at home or in the garden as they are naturally inquisitive and therefore drawn to water.
“But at that age, they cannot get themselves out of trouble if they fall into water.”
Research by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) showed that in 2010-11, about 150 children under the age of 15 were taken to hospital after nearly drowning, with 28 under-15s actually drowning.
Pamela Prentice, campaigns manager for the CAPT, said: “Fill in your garden pond and if you can’t fill it in, make sure it is fenced off or covered.
“Keep gates shut and bolted, but also check hedges or fences to make sure there are no gaps.
“A small child will drown silently, so there may not be any noise to alert you.”
Mr Walker of RoSPA added: “Once a child reaches the age of six, their vulnerability to drowning disappears so any changes to garden ponds need only be temporary.
“Remember, it only takes seconds for a child to escape attention, make their way to the water and for tragedy to strike.”