Boy Remains in Coma after Cruise Ship Near-Drowning

Pool drowning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that the four-year-old boy that recently suffered a near-drowning aboard a Disney Fantasy cruise ship remains in a coma. This incident, along with a second drowning in March 2013, is prompting concerns over the company’s no-lifeguard policy.

The four-year-old was with his family on a week-long Caribbean Disney cruise at the time of the incident, which occurred around 3:30 p.m. He was quickly administered CPR and first aid by emergency rescue teams, and did have a pulse when he was taken by EMS helicopter to a local Orlando hospital. The Disney Fantasy ship departed about 45 minutes later and continued on its Western Caribbean route.

Physicians state the boy remains in a coma and in critical condition, facing extensive brain damage when and if he awakens. His parents, however, are optimistic. The question many parents and Disney cruise passengers are wondering is whether or not the near-drowning was foreseeable and preventable. The Director of the Public Affairs Cruise Lines International Association stated that corporations like Disney do blatantly warn its passengers before departure of the potential dangers of its pools. Like many hotels, cruise ships use signs and warning materials to inform passengers that full-time lifeguards are not on duty, and to always use discretion when swimming.

Signs, however, can only do so much, especially on cruise lines like Disney that are filled with children and their distracted parents. Some say that cruise ships are designed to provide distraction and entertainment, which carries over to the lack of monitoring of children while on board. Even the most astute parents cannot be fully attentive to all potential dangers their children may face, in environments addled with alcohol, food, views, and entertainment.

Of course, parents need to keep a constant eye on children in any pool, whether it be at home or on vacation. Former U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer, Mario Vittone, author of several articles and essays on drowning, said that most child drownings occur within 25 years of a parent of supervising adult. Furthermore, about 10% of those will occur while the adult is actually watching the child, unaware of the signals that a drowning is taking place.

Just a month ago, in March 2013, a 13-year-old boy from Missouri died at a Disney establishment. He was found unresponsive at the bottom of the Disney hotel Pop Century Resort, near Epcot. The teen’s father and another hotel guest tried to fish him out of the pool and perform CPR to no avail. Witnesses stated he was playing in the pool Sunday evening with several family members when he suddenly disappeared. A cousin spotted him at the bottom on the pool around 9:00 p.m. and alerted others. The teen had a pulse and was breathing when he was taken to a nearby Orlando hospital, however, passed away after being transferred to Florida Hospital South.

According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children aged one to 14 in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death for citizens of all ages. Public concern is increasingly asking why cruise lines are not hiring professional, permanent lifeguards in its ships, particularly those that cater to small children, such as Disney. This is especially significant because, as Vittone stated, many parents and responsible adults fail to notice the signs of drowning even while it’s happening before their eyes. Most people expect violent splashing and screaming during a drowning accident, however, this is rarely the case. Most drownings occur in silence, with little splashing, no waving, and no calls for yelp. This is because drowning victims are physiologically unable to call for help or voluntarily move their body in the direction of help. Signs to look for include closed eyes, head tilted back with mouth open, gasping, trying to roll over on to back, and mouths at water level.

Pool drowning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently evaluating potential drowning and swimming accident lawsuits. Such cases involve irresponsible behavior by lifeguards or any parties responsible for the water source or premise. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a pool or water accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills and emotional distress.

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