Twins, a brother and sister, were found in a pool in a residential complex in Plantation, Florida, last week. The sister died after five days of being in critical condition. A lot of unanswered questions are raised, such as who is liable for the tragedy. Althea Bradford, mother of the twins, made the harrowing call March 6, 2014, reporting that she was seeing bodies floating in the pool unaware that the bodies were those of her own twins.
The two-year-old twins, Henry and Jada Roman, had been in the care of the babysitter in the apartment complex. Ms. Bradford went to work that day in the housing office of the same complex, just yards away from the apartment and right next door to the pool. It was Ms. Bradford who made the initial call to 911 after seeing two infant bodies floating in the pool from her office window. Ms. Bradford had no idea the bodies were those of her own children. It was not until emergency responders pulled the children from the pool that Ms. Bradford realized the babies were her twins. The amount of time that elapsed between the time Ms. Bradford called and the time emergency responders showed up was four minutes. According to medical experts, it takes only three minutes under water for irreparable brain damage to occur. Her son, Henry, remains in critical condition.
The babysitter stated she was in the bathroom with the door open at the time. She claims the twins must have accessed a lock on the door separating the unit from the pool, which is located only 150 feet away. The question is, if the elapsed time from the 911 call until emergency responders showed up was four minutes, just how long were the twins missing and when did the babysitter notice they were gone?
Such unimaginable tragedy brings forth the question of who is liable for the death of one child and the critical condition of the other. Florida Department of Health reports more children die in swimming pool accidents there than any other state. With those alarming statistics, how can a swimming pool be so accessible from a ground floor apartment? Was there a gate that has a highly placed latch to access the pool area? What kind of laws are currently in place in Florida regarding housing complexes and swimming pools?
According to the Florida Swimming Pool Association, it is mandated that swimming pools have all of the following: a four-foot-tall barrier, the barrier must be around the perimeter of the pool, the barrier must be positioned sufficiently away from the pool’s edge, and a wall or dwelling may be used as a barrier only if that wall or door does not provide direct access to the pool.
Following this story, there is no report as to whether there was a gate that directly blocked access to the pool thereby serving as a safety barrier. Furthermore, the door that the children were said to have unlocked served as the only barrier between the unit and pool access, which would have been accessible to a two-year-old.
The only 911 call on record was from Bradford, who spotted the bodies floating in the pool. Now, there is concern whether the babysitter placed a call at all. This case is still under investigation and has not been ruled as an accident or otherwise. Prosecution and fines of any kind will not assuage the grief of the mother who has lost a child and whose other child is still clinging to life. However, someone should he held liable for the swimming accident, and the death of Bradford’s twin daughter.
Opinion by Debra Pittman