Lauderdale Lakes Child Living with Autism Drowns in Pool

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office says a ten-year-old boy drowned in a pool at a Lauderdale Lakes home on the 4500 block of NW 32nd Court Saturday morning.

Investigators say the call came in at 9:06 a.m. 

Paramedics who arrived on scene tried to perform CPR, but the child was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

NBC 6 spoke to the homeowner where the child drowned. 

“My son said, ‘Mom there’s some people in our pool.’ Why are people in our pool? So, I went to go investigate, and I found the baby on the floor, and the uncle in panic.”

The homeowner tells us the boy did not live at her home and was not visiting her home. She says the child lived in the neighborhood and showed up on his own. 

The homeowner says the child would sometimes wander onto her property. 

“He just randomly comes to my house, and just plays with my kids’ toys in my yard,” she said.

Neighbors say the child was living with autism. 

“You see tragedies like this happen all too often. It’s the number one cause of death of children with autism,” said Audrey Amadeo, Board Certified Behavioral Analyst and Founder of Arts for Autism Foundation. 

Amandeo says children living with autism are more likely to wander in the summer, and are often drawn to water.

“More than half of those who are living with autism have a behavior called elopement. Which is also known as wandering. So they like to wander around or leave a designated safe area,” said Amadeo. “… Their danger perception is affected. So they don’t necessarily know that there’s a danger associated with bodies of water.”

NBC 6 knocked on the door of the child’s home, but the person who answered the door declined to comment.

BSO’s homicide unit is investigating the case. 

Amadeo encourages parents of children living with autism to have  their children to swim lessons, and says there are autism-friendly providers. 

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years old and the second leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 5 to 9, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reported that more than 60% of fatal drownings of children under the age of 4 occur in swimming pools.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Red Cross suggest home owners follow these safety tips to help prevent a tragedy and keep a well maintained backyard pool:

Pool Safety Tips

  1. Install Proper Barriers, Covers and Alarms: Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.
  2. Never Leave a Child Unattended in or Near Water: Always watch children when they’re in or near water, and never leave them unattended. Designate an official Water Watcher, an adult tasked with supervising children in the water. That should be their only task – they shouldn’t be reading, texting or playing games on their phone. Have a phone close by at all times in case you need to call for help, and if a child is missing, check the pool first. 
  3. Teach Children How to Swim: Swimming is not only fun, it’s a lifesaving skill. Enroll children in swimming lessons; there are many free or reduced-cost options available from your local YMCA, USA Swimming chapter or Parks and Recreation Department. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  4. Teach Children to Stay Away From Drains: Do not play or swim near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools, and never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken or missing drain cover. Children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits can get stuck in a drain or suction opening. When using a spa, be sure to locate the emergency vacuum shutoff before getting in the water.
  5. Keep Your Pool Water Clean and Clear: Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes or more serious diseases.
  6. Have an Emergency Response Plan: Ensure everyone in the home knows how to respond to aquatic emergencies by having appropriate safety equipment and taking water safety, first aid and CPR courses. Often, bystanders are the first to aid a drowning victim, so learning CPR can help save a life. And once you’re CPR certified, make sure to keep your certification current. CPR classes are available through many hospitals, community centers, or by contacting the American Red Cross at at 1-800-RED-CROSS or support@redcrosstraining.org.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with NBC 6 for updates.