Coroner, Experts Discuss 3-Year-Old's Drowning Death
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths among children, according to water safety experts.
Two days following the drowning of a 3-year-old at a swim club in Newtown Square, the Montgomery County coroner provided greater context for the girl’s death.
Newtown Township police and ambulance responded at 4:49 p.m. Saturday to St. Albans Swim Club in Newtown Square, where someone was already administering CPR to the girl when they arrived, Newtown Township Chief of Police Dennis Anderson said Saturday.
Joan Elizabeth Logan, 3, was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m. Saturday at Bryn Mawr Hospital, and Montgomery County Coroner Walter Hofman ruled the manner and cause of death accidental drowning. Despite requests from concerned family friends to both him and to Patch asking that he retract his statements, he said his statements were based on facts, both from police reports and from witness accounts.
“The father said he and his wife were talking to other adults near the pool, went looking for her, did not see her in the baby pool…and saw her floating in the (middle) pool,” Hofman said. “They lost sight of the baby.”
Experts like Mario Vittone and Shawn P. DeRosa said numerous factors contribute to childhood drowning, which they said is the second leading cause of accidental deaths among children younger than 15.
“Ninety percent of kids that drowned are considered to be supervised when it happens,” said Vittone, a maritime expert with the U.S. Coast Guard based in Norfolk, Va. “Unlike on TV, it happens in 20 to 60 seconds and is silent.”
An acquatics director and safety coordinator at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, DeRosa said monitoring children in water is different than at home.
“Children, as any parent can attest, can quickly get away from you… Drowning is silent and deadly,” DeRosa said. “There might not be screams, no crying,” he said, advising parents to remain in water with small children and within an arm’s reach.
Vittone, who runs a water safety website, said childhood drownings are “almost always are about losing sight of the kid.”
In an example, Vittone described a scenario with a competent lifeguard monitoring the situation.
“With 20 kids playing, the lifeguard can’t always see that kid in the back,” he said.
Both Vittone and DeRosa hailed work done by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance as a resource for parents to consult in pool safety. Vittone also noted a recently launched federal program called PoolSafely.gov.
Many family friends said in calls and emails that the Logans are great people and great parents.
Several readers who did not know the family expressed their sympathy in emails to Patch.
“I am so, so sorry about the awful news,” wrote reader Mandy Meiler. “It is all I can think about, and we don’t even know you. We have three girls. I cannot imagine how terrible life is for you right now. Take care, and know that many thoughts are with you.”
“We did not know this sweet angel Joanie, but she and her family have been in our constant prayers. May her beautiful family find strength in each other and their way to eventual healing. God bless her parents.”