Terrifying moment dad found son face-down in Machynlleth swimming pool after instructors turned their backs

Reporter:

Jonny Drury

A father has spoken of the terrifying moment he found his son face down in a swimming pool after instructors had turned their back on a swimming lesson.

Powys County Council (PCC) was fined £75,000 at Swansea Crown Court last week, after admitting health and safety breaches.

Gryffydd Rhys Davies arrived at the Bro Ddyfi Leisure Centre to collect his son Evan, from a swimming class.

On arrival on November 24, 2014, he found his four-year-old face down, lifeless and underwater in the pool.

Following last week's sentencing, Mr Davies said: “My reaction was absolute terror, no parent should have to see what I saw that night.

“Since this happened my son requested to go to swimming lessons with his class in school to the same leisure centre.

“We reluctantly relented as we didn’t want him to be left out of group activities with his friends, but only after hearing there are now many new safety measures in place and having the assurance that a school teacher is also on poolside throughout the lessons.

“We haven’t paid for any of their services since the incident nearly two years ago.”

Mr Davies, whose family are from Machynlleth, said the family have had to wait two years for an apology. They only received an apology on the day of the court case, from the strategic director at PCC.

Mr Davies also spoke of his relief at arriving when he did, otherwise it could have been fatal.

He added: “As the HSE’s barrister alluded to in court, it only takes seconds for a child to drown in water.

“No one knows how long he’d been under water, surely many more seconds would’ve been fatal.

“I thought the fine imposed would’ve been more, but when the judge explained in summing up that the money would be coming out of constituents’ pockets rather than from a company’s profits, I understood the lower amount the council were fined.”

Since the incident, Mr Davies has been informed by other parents that new procedures have been put in place, to stop things like this from happening again.

“There can be no doubt about it, the safety measures in place that night were far below what was required to ensure the safety of all the children present,” added Mr Davies.

Paul Griffiths, Powys County Council's Strategic Director for Place, said: “The county council co-operated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout the investigation that followed the accident and has already implement safety recommendations at the centre.

“The council fully acknowledges it has a crucial role to play in providing safe public facilities and accepts the court’s sentence.”

See full story in the County Times

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