Girl died after near-drowning, lifeguards were distracted
The state coroner criticised two lifeguards and a swimming instructor after a six-year-old girl, who did not know how to float or swim independently without support, died after a near-drowning at Kallang Basin Swimming Complex.
On Dec 20, 2017, Sherlyn Ler was left to fend for herself with a swimming board for at least four minutes.
Her instructor, Mr Yeo Chwee Chuan, had led her to the pool's mid-point during her 7pm lesson, before allowing the girl to swim to the edge. He then turned away to focus on his other students, aged six to eight years old.
Of the two lifeguards near the teaching pool, one was busy on his mobile phone while the other was arranging chairs.
In an inquiry into her death on Tuesday, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said: "The lifeguard should not be distracted by the use of his personal devices or idle chit-chat. He should never leave his post unguarded.
"Drowning is known to occur quickly and quietly between 20 and 60 seconds."
She also noted several lapses in Mr Yeo's management of his lesson, saying his class formation was "poor".
"At several points in time, more than one student was out of his line of sight... Ideally, the child, especially one who is not an independent swimmer, should be within arm's reach," added the state coroner, who found Sherlyn's death a tragic misadventure.
Moments after Mr Yeo turned his back, the 1.11m-tall Sherlyn went under in a pool where the water's depth was between 0.8m and 1m.
LACK OF OXYGEN
She died in hospital on Jan 9 last year of a lack of oxygen and blood flowing to the brain following the near-drowning.
The Straits Times understands that Mr Yeo's coaching licence has been suspended by Sport Singapore and Mr Firdaus Rajatmarican and Mr Law Kum Wah, who left the pool unattended for at least four minutes, are no longer lifeguards.
Sherlyn's family members were in court on Tuesday but they declined to comment.
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