Female lifeguard who ‘watched boy, 8, drown thought he was messing around’

April 25, 2013 | by | 0 Comments
Suraj Mall who drowned in a pool at the Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in 2008

Suraj Mall who drowned in a pool at the Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in 2008

A female lifeguard who watched as an eight-year-old boy drowned in front of her thought he was “messing around” when she spotted him floating face down in the pool, a court has heard.

Suraj Mall died after going for a dip in a leisure centre in February 2008.

Lifeguard Kelly Woods, 31, who was on duty when the youngster drowned, went on trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court last week charged with failing to properly supervise pool users.

A jury was told Woods had been stood talking to a customer for 15 minutes and failed to notice he was in trouble at Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre.

The court heard Suraj had been submerged face-down in the pool for one-and-a-half minutes before Woods finally dived in.

Giving evidence on Wednesday Woods said before she jumped in she asked two young swimmers to POKE Suraj to check if he was “messing around”.

She said: “I asked the girls to check if he was okay – I asked them to poke him to see if he was all right.

“I thought he was messing around at first. That’s what children do.

“My full attention was on the pool. There was no permanent obstruction, from where I was positioned, of my view of the pool.

“I cannot think of any reason why I did not see Suraj.”

Woods also denied that her conversation with customer Barry King led to her not spotting the drowning boy.

She told the court: “I wasn’t paying much attention to him (Mr King). I couldn’t see him.

“I was looking at the pool. He wasn’t obstructing my view of the pool at all.

“It was a very short conversation. I should have told him to go away.

“It didn’t stop me scanning the pool. I was staring straight ahead.”

The court was also told that a 12-year-old girl who found Suraj called for help twice before Woods finally heard her.

The youngster described the harrowing moment she found Suraj with “bubbly foam” coming from his mouth.

Lifeguard Kelly Woods is on trial accused of not paying attention when Suraj drowned

Lifeguard Kelly Woods is on trial accused of not paying attention when Suraj drowned

The pool at Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in Wolverhampton

The pool at Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in Wolverhampton

Giving evidence via video-link, she said: “The boy was rocking in the water when I swam past him. His head was under the water, facing towards the deep end.

“His legs were underneath his arms. I lifted his arm and it was floppy in the water.

“There was bubbly foam coming out of his mouth.

“His eyes were open and really white. I was panicking. He didn’t look like he was breathing.

“The lifeguard was standing and then she was talking. I called her and said excuse me.

“She didn’t hear me. She heard me the second time. There were lots of people talking so I had to shout.

“Then the lifeguard dived in and picked him up and carried him in her arms. He didn’t have armbands on.

“His mum was where my aunty was watching us. She shouted ‘that’s my son, that’s my son’.”

Woods, from Wolverhampton, denies one charge of failing to properly supervise pool users.

The trial continues.

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