Toddler drowned in back garden pond, inquest told

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First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

THE death of a toddler who was found face down in a garden pond was a tragic accident, an inquest heard yesterday.

Harvey Dale, aged 23 months, was playing in the garden at his home in Queensway, Didcot, on September 4 last year when he climbed into the pond that had been created using a children’s paddling pool.

He was found in the pond by his father Shane, who pulled him from the water and began CPR to try to save his son.

Harvey was rushed to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, but died there two days later.

In a statement read to Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday, Harvey’s mother Charlotte said: “The kids asked to play in the garden.

“It was a nice sunny evening and I said ok.”

She added: “I called them all for their dinner. All the kids were going in and out.

“I called Harvey at the door and he didn’t come.

“I told Shane to run and check out the back for him.

“I saw Shane out the window jumping into the water.”

In her statement Mrs Dale said: “There was a step on the edge of the pond where he would sit quite often.

“He liked being in the garden, he used to climb everything.”

In his statement Mr Dale said: “He was in the pond face down. I picked him up and turned him over.

“I put him on the grass and started CPR.”

Dc Andrew Ryan said the water in the 33-inch deep makeshift pond was 26-inches deep.

He said: “When I asked the parents about what he was like as a child they said he was always climbing into things.”

The inquest heard that Harvey’s cause of death was hypoxic brain injury.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter said: “It is an extremely sad case.

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“Clearly it seems to be a tragic accident that occurred in the garden of the home address on September 4 in the late afternoon.

“As such the correct verdict would be of accidental death.”

He added: “It seems that Harvey was only out of sight for a short period of time.”

After the inquest, Didcot Town Council leader Margaret Davies said: “I think people in Didcot were dearly affected by the loss of this very young life and our hearts go out to the family.

“It is a very sad event and I just hope that they can accept the ruling of the inquest and come to terms with it.”

Sheila Merrill, public health adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “It is understandable that parents can’t supervise their children 100 per cent of the time, but young children are naturally inquisitive and will invariably investigate.”

She added: “To help reduce the risk of a drowning accident in the garden, paddling pools should be emptied of water, turned upside down and put away when not in use.”

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