herald

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Boy (3) drowned after stepping into jacuzzi at hotel children's club

John and Briget Kennedy with a photograph of their deceased son Ronan (3) at The Dublin City Coronor's Court today
John and Briget Kennedy with a photograph of their deceased son Ronan (3) at The Dublin City Coronor's Court today

A three-year-old boy died after he stepped into a jacuzzi at a hotel kids club and disappeared underwater.

CCTV revealed the final movements of Ronan Kennedy, from Templederry, Co Tipperary, at the Quality Hotel in Youghal, Co Cork.

The footage played at the inquest into his death showed him exit the changing room and walk straight to the jacuzzi, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

Ronan drowned as people walked close by as he was invisible in the churning water.

His parents Bridget and John called on the Government to introduce regulations for swimming pools immediately. The inquest heard that pools are unregulated for safety.

Magical

"Ronan was a magical little boy. He loved to play outside, go farming and he adored his food. He was full of life, love and was extremely affectionate," the Kennedy family said in a statement after the inquest.

"This cannot happen to any other child. We ask that proper protocols be put in place regarding child safety within swimming pools."

Garda James Heffernan reviewed CCTV footage taken at the hotel pool on July 13, 2015.

He said Ronan walked out of the changing room directly to the water's edge.

"He walked straight ahead from the door to the lip of the jacuzzi. He stepped into the seat of the jacuzzi and then he stepped directly into the middle of it," he said.

Ronan Kennedy
Ronan Kennedy

"Unfortunately he is not visible for a number of minutes until he drifts out into the pool where he is found."

Kids club staff were placing armbands on children next to the pool near the reception area at the time, the court heard.

Liam Moloney was at the pool with his son and grandson when he found Ronan floating underwater. "I saw this little lad, I thought he was swimming underwater at first," he said.

Mr Moloney said he then noticed that the boy was not moving. "I touched his head and lifted him out of the pool," he said, adding that he then raised the alarm.

The inquest heard from Irish Water Safety (IWS) chief executive John Leech who said there were no formal regulations for swimming pools, either public or private, in Ireland.

He said pools were self-regulated, there was no official register and no obligation to follow IWS guidelines.

The tragedy happened the day after the family arrived at the hotel for a break.

Ronan was taken to Cork University Hospital and later to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin, where he was pronounced dead the following day.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane, who recorded a verdict of death by drowning, recommended that a dedicated lifeguard should be on duty at all times at swimming pools.

She said she would be contacting the Government to call for a water safety inspectorate be set up.

The coroner commended the family's decision to donate Ronan's organs and thanked them on behalf of those who had benefited.

Pain

"There is very little one can say to console you in this situation. This is some small thing you can take great consolation from," she said.

The Kennedy family raised more than €40,000 for Temple Street Hospital following Ronan's death.

"I hope no other family has to carry the pain that we do on a daily basis," the family's statement added.

"We believe that regulations have been promised and we would call upon the Government to deal with this promptly as another summer season is upon us and immediate changes need to be made."

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