Cape Town – The father of a seven-year-old boy who drowned in Tygerberg Hospital’s swimming pool on Friday said he dove in several times to try and find his son in the murky water.
“I tried. I dove in again and again to find him. I could not see, but felt through the three-metre deep pool with my hands. I could not find him at all,” the anguished dad said on Monday.
The boy has been identified as Angelo Martin, a Grade 1 pupil at Pinedene Primary in Ravensmead.
His family said on Friday afternoon, Angelo and two friends decided to play at the hospital, which is about 400 metres from their home.
The boys had jumped over the fence of the hospital and while playing around the enclosed and disused pool, Angelo, who could not swim, apparently slipped and fell into the water.
According to his friends, he sank under the water and never resurfaced.
The panicked boys ran home where they told another boy of the incident.
This boy then ran to get Angelo’s dad, Rhodri Martin, 41.
A distraught Rhodri said he ran to the pool and after several attempts at finding his son in the murky water, he collapsed on the side of the pool and wept.
Security staff and paramedics rushed to the scene, but Angelo was only found an hour later.
Rhodri and his wife, Zurina, have six children and the mom said Angelo was forbidden from going to the hospital on his own.
Zurina said: “He never went to the hospital and knew he was not allowed to play there.
“He was a good boy, clever and my second youngest. I last saw him on Friday morning when he went to school. I went to work and when I got home, my son was gone.”
Rhodri’s aunt, who works as a nurse at the hospital, Hendriette Maarman, 52, said she feels responsible for Angelo’s death.
“I saw the boys playing with a wheelchair and shouted at him ‘go home, Angelo’, but maybe I should have done more,” Hendriette said.
“They ran towards home when I told them to go, and I thought he went home.”
Western Cape Health spokesperson, Mark van der Heever, confirmed the incident but said the boys had trespassed.
“The pool was enclosed, gates locked and access prohibited. The Department’s EMS division responded to the call, but unfortunately could not resuscitate the boy and he was declared deceased at the scene,” he said.
Police spokesperson, Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, said Parow police have opened a death inquest case. Circumstances are under investigation, she said.