London, April 20 (IANS) An eight-year-old boy of Indian origin drowned in a swimming pool in Britain’s Wolverhampton city in 2008 after a lifeguard stopped watching swimmers to chat to a customer, a court has heard.
Lifeguard Kelly Woods, 31, had been talking for up to 15 minutes when Indian-origin boy Suraj Mall got into difficulty in the water, the Daily Mail reported.
When she turned back to watch the swimming pool, the boy was found floating face down.
Woods is charged with failing to properly supervise pool users.
Though she dived in to try to save him, the schoolboy had already been submerged for almost two minutes. Despite attempts to revive him, Suraj was pronounced dead in hospital.
“She was at work and got talking to a customer while she was on duty,” the prosecution told the court.
Lajla Kaur, the boy’s 35-year-old mother, who had taken Suraj and his three siblings to the pool, broke down in the witness stand as she recalled the tragedy which happened in February 2008.
Kaur went for a brief induction at the centre’s gym and returned to see her four children in the pool’s shallow end through a glass window. She then went to get change for a locker and on returning could not see her son.
“Suraj wasn’t there and I kind of panicked. When I got the children’s attention, they couldn’t hear me through the glass. When they did finally understand, they pointed towards the changing room. Then I heard the alarm and people were coming out of the pool,” she said.
Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre lifeguard Natalie Emery, 24, told jurors that conversations with customers of more than two minutes were not permissible.