Swimming Pool Safety: Electrocutions Raise Alarm Before Summer

The tragic death of a boy electrocuted in a North Miami swimming pool in April has raised alarm among parents — and now water safety experts are warning families to take extra caution as kids get revved up for Memorial Day weekend and summer vacation.

Calder Sloan, a vivacious and athletic 7-year-old, died April 13 after being electrocuted in his own backyard swimming pool. Police are investigating whether a faulty pool light that may have sent charges coursing through the water is to blame.

"They found the ground cable wasn't hooked up," Calder's father, Chris Sloan, told NBC News. "So, essentially, Calder became the ground. Electricity, instead of traveling to the ground, traveled through his body."


And just two weeks later, three kids — 5-year-old Danielle Gamez, her 10-year-old brother Diego, and a third child — were badly shocked in a swimming pool at a Miami-area condominium complex.

"When they grabbed onto the metal railing, that's when they got the shock and they just — they were paralyzed," Mayra Diaz, the victims' cousin, told NBC News.

City inspectors say bad wiring was the likely culprit behind the freak incident, which was captured in stomach-churning surveillance footage. Luckily, all three children survived after adults dragged their apparently limp bodies out of the water.

Cause for alarm

In the wake of these terrifying incidents, water safety advocates are calling on pool owners to take precautions.

"(You should) make sure the electrical equipment is a safe distance away from the pool and that the pool is properly maintained so there's no corrosion on the wires," Alan Korn, the executive director of the charitable organization Abbey's Hope Foundation, told NBC News.

The foundation is named for Abbey Taylor, a 6-year-old girl who died in 2008, a year after receiving injuries from an improperly maintained wading pool drain.

Chris Sloan, Calder's father, has created a website that honors his son's memory and offers key safety warnings to pool owners.

"Calder had this incredible life-force about him and we're just ... trying to get the word out to save lives. That's really what this comes down to," Chris Sloan told NBC News.

Taken too soon

In the wake of Calder's death, a family friend, Jim Cahill, suggested on Facebook that strangers take photos of themselves in different locations while holding a picture drawn by Calder — a self-portrait called "Mr. Awesome."

The drawing has since cropped up on the side of the Miami Heat's home arena and at Miami-Dade Police headquarters.