Valle Vista near-drowning leaves toddler in critical condition

Photo contributed by Heather Wilson
Baby Zayden fell into his grandparents’ backyard pool Jan 31. He is on life support at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.

■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor

A two-year-old-boy nearly drowned in an unfenced backyard swimming pool in Valle Vista on Jan. 31. According to his mother, Heather Wilson, the toddler, Zayden, had been dropped off at his grandparents’ home the night before. Zayden had eaten breakfast, put his bowl in the sink, and crawled back into bed with his paternal grandmother, Jamie Hall. Sometime after that, another family member came back from the store and found the boy in the swimming pool.
While details about the incident are still murky, Wilson said Zayden was pulled from the pool by his grandfather, Joe Hall, who began to perform CPR, which had no visible effect, according to Wilson. While Hall was performing CPR, grandmother Jamie Hall was awakened by her husband’s screams to call 9-1-1. Cal Fire / Riverside County Firefighters responded to the 25000 block of Bellview St. in Valle Vista and a ground ambulance transported him to a hospital, according to a release by Cal Fire.
In the week since the incident, mother Heather is heartbroken and spends every waking moment by Zayden’s hospital bedside at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.
“He’s had a rough week; I’ve been asked to think about what to do if he codes, whether I want to have him revived or not,” said Wilson. “I feel so lost and helpless right now. It’s a decision no mother should ever be faced with.”
When he was first admitted to the hospital, Zayden was put into a medically-induced coma to reduce or hopefully stop the seizures that were ravaging his tiny body. The medications have helped and seizures have stopped. His blond hair peeks out from beneath gauze bandages, tubes cover most of his skin, he is being fed via nasogastric intubation, and he is fighting bacterial pneumonia. He looks nothing like the happy boy Wilson dropped off to his grandparent’s home that morning. The family has created a Facebook page, Prayer Warriors for 2 Year Old Zayden, to keep family and friends updated on his progress. A GoFundMe account has also been started to help with expenses.
Hope remains, though, because recently Wilson has seen signs that brain activity exists, such as Zayden responding to someone tickling his foot. While it’s still too soon to know if it was an involuntary response, a seizure or whether it is brain function, prayers are being said 24/7 for the healing of this little boy.
While Wilson needs to focus on her son, she also now has to deal with authorities, such as those from Child Protective Services, who have questions they want answered, such as why there was no barrier fence around the pool, and why nobody was awake when a toddler was present. The home was built in the ‘80s before the Swimming Pool Safety Act of 1998 was passed to require barrier fences around swimming pools.


California pool enclosure requirements

■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor

While spring and summer are the most common seasons for backyard pool drowning, a drowning can happen anytime, anywhere, even in one inch of water. The winter months are the perfect time to install a barrier around your swimming pool.
The Swimming Pool Safety Act (Health and Safety Code §§115920-115929) requires at least one safety barrier around swimming pools built after Jan. 1, 1998 and for any pools being remodeled. More than one barrier is preferred. The enclosure must have the following characteristics:

(a) Any access gates through the enclosure open away from the swimming pool, and are self-closing with a self-latching device placed no lower than 60 inches above the ground.
(b) A minimum height of 60 inches.
(c) A maximum vertical clearance from the ground to the bottom of the enclosure of two inches.
(d) Gaps or voids, if any, do not allow passage of a sphere equal to or greater than four inches in diameter.
(e) An outside surface free of protrusions, cavities, or other physical characteristics that would serve as handholds or footholds that could enable a child below the age of five years to climb over.

Other pool safety recommendations:
A four sided isolation pool fence close to the pool perimeter provides greatest assurance for the safety of children. A property perimeter pool fence might be sufficient to protect neighboring children; but does not adequately protect children in the home.
Keep pool fence gates and ladders latched with latches above the reach of small children. Lock gates during extended non-use periods. Never prop doors or gates open. Lock pet doors leading to the pool.
Spas and wading pools can be as dangerous as full sized swimming pools and must be similarly isolated.
California law provides for approval of pool safety covers (full covers which prevent a child’s falling into the pool), removable mesh pool fencing, self-closing and latching devices on the home’s doors, exit alarms on doors, swimming pool alarms, or any other barrier approved by local building officials.
Install a water motion alarm to sound if there is any water disturbance. Place the on-off switch out of the reach of children.
Questions about pool fencing requirements may be answered by contacting the CDPH Safe and Active Communities branch at (916) 552-9800 or sac@cdph.ca.gov.

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