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January 5, 2015

Boy, 4, critical after nearly drowning in cruise ship pool

By Adam Sacasa
Sun Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A family's cruise ship vacation turned frightening Saturday when their 4-year-old boy nearly drowned in a wave pool on the 15th deck of the ship, leaving him in critical condition.

The boy "was swept under" in the pool aboard the Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, and remained underwater anywhere between an estimated five to 10 minutes, according to Mike Jachles, spokesman for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue.

The boy remained in critical condition Sunday at Broward Health Medical Center, according to spokeswoman Carthy Thomas.

Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., confirmed that the 4-year old was a boy from Italy who "was rescued from one of the ship’s swimming pools."

"Royal Caribbean does not have lifeguards stationed at our pools," Martinez said in an email Sunday. "Signs are always posted that warn passengers to swim at their own risk, similar to what you'd see at many hotels."

The boy was initially treated by the ship’s medical team, but required additional medical attention, she said, so the ship altered its course to sail back toward Port Everglades.

The ship had departed from Port Everglades about 4:30 p.m., approximately an hour before the wave-pool emergency happened. The ship turned around "and advised our firefighters they were coming back with a patient who had been revived," Jachles said.

The boy was traveling with his two parents and his sibling, Jachles said. "My understanding is that they're not from the South Florida area," he said.

"Obviously, one can only imagine that somebody sets sail on a vacation an hour in, to turn around to something like this," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and with the child."

During the near drowning, a bystander on the deck of the ship noticed the child and alerted a swimmer in the pool, who pulled the child out of the water. The child had no pulse at the time.

Bystanders began CPR, which they kept performing on the child as he was taken to the ship's infirmary. The ship's infirmary staff began "aggressive advanced life support" measures, Jachles said.

They were able to restore the child's pulse, he said. "He was given medications and also he was externally cooled. That's something that is called hypothermic resuscitation."

It was unknown who was with the child on the deck of the ship when the 4-year-old nearly drowned.

"I don't have the information as to where the parents or the sibling were at the time," Jachles said at a news conference Saturday night outside the hospital. "That will all be part of the investigation that they're working right now."

When the ship reached Port Everglades, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue crews continued providing the child medical treatment as they took him to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit. The child was given medication to keep him sedated.

"We hope the child will recover," Jachles said.

At Port Everglades, sheriff's detectives boarded the ship to conduct an investigation. "Everybody on the ship has fully cooperated with the investigation," Jachles said.

"Royal Caribbean’s Care Team is providing support to the guest’s family and our thoughts and prayers are with them," Martinez said in a statement.  

Oasis of the Seas departed again from Port Everglades about 10:45 p.m. Saturday. It is scheduled for a seven-night cruise that includes port calls to Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service
©2015 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)


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