Saint-Léonard residents are grieving the death of a six-year-old boy who was found motionless at the bottom of a pool where a lifeguard had been on duty and several people were swimming.
The boy was pulled from the waters of the pool of a multi-unit residential complex called the Domaine Choisy on Avila Street around 7 p.m. Monday.
“I saw a lot of cop cars and like one or two ambulances and you know it didn’t make any sense,” said Léon Basile, a resident in the area.
Before paramedics and police officers arrived, the lone lifeguard at the pool attempted to resuscitate the boy. It is not clear how long he was underwater.
The boy was immediately taken to hospital in critical condition. His mother was also treated for shock.
Montreal police confirmed Tuesday the boy had died and said they do not believe it was a criminal act. A police investigation is also underway to determine the circumstances surrounding his death.
The tragedy shocked Zouhaier Zid, a resident who was coming home at the time of the boy’s drowning and saw a flurry of police cars outside his home.
With a heat wave in full effect, he said there were too many children at the pool for one lifeguard to supervise.
“Too many kids and not enough parents,” he said.
The executive director of the Quebec Lifesaving Society said pool requirements were met in this situation and he believes the lone lifeguard performed her due diligence in an emergency.
“She did what she had to do,” said Raynald Hawkins.
The situation is unlikely — less than one per cent of drownings occur in a swimming pool with a lifeguard on duty, he said.
“The best recommendation we can ask to everyone is learn to swim and when you are not a good swimmer stay on the side of pool where you can put your feet on the bottom,” he said.
The society says water safety is everyone’s responsibility and warns vigilance is necessary around pools. Lifeguards should always be made aware if someone is struggling in a pool or has difficulty swimming since drowning is often silent and quick.
Barbara Byers of the Lifesaving Society said parents and guardians should always keep a close eye on their children when they’re in the water.
“We always tell parents that lifeguards aren’t babysitters,” she said.
— with files from Global’s Cora MacDonald, Max Kalinowicz and the Canadian Press