The coroner's office is probing the drowning death of a
13-year-old boy who was suctioned to the bottom of a hot tub in a
Scarborough condominium Friday.
Ontario's deputy chief coroner Dr. Barry McLellan said
investigators will look into the safety of the pool in question
and the files of other related deaths in the past.
``Clearly the investigation will include testing of this
particular hot tub where this young boy was found in,'' McLellan
said in an interview yesterday.
``We will go through our files and carefully track the
recommendations arising from the (previous) inquests. But this is
still a very uncommon occurrence.''
Michael Botelho, a visitor in the building on Sheppard Ave. E.
near Kingston Rd., was in the small indoor swimming area with
three friends when he disappeared underwater around 4:30 p.m.
Police said suction from a grate at the bottom of the tub kept
the victim stuck under the surface.
After as long as eight minutes underwater, Botelho was taken to
the Hospital for Sick Children, where he died at 10:30 p.m.
There have been at least two similar deaths in Greater Toronto
in the past 15 years where young victims drowned after they were
trapped in pool drains.
Gregory Racette, 11, died Aug. 14, 1986, after his legs were
sucked into an uncovered whirlpool drain at a Mississauga racquet
Years later - on March 9, 1994 - Cristin Fitzpatrick, 10, of
Scarborough drowned after a pool's filtration equipment sucked in
her hair, trapping her underwater.
The coroner's office called an inquest into both deaths and the
juries recommended sweeping changes to improve safe operation of
hot tubs and swimming pools.
Among the recommendations were provincial regulations and
inspection of commercial whirlpools, and a protocol that required
lifeguards and caretakers to report unusual occurrences with pool
equipment, including experiences of suction.
McLellan could not tell The Star yesterday how many of the
recommendations from the inquest have been implemented.
Gregory's mother Tammy Racette, however, said she was upset
that her son's death failed to prevent another tragedy.
``Gregory's inquest was a total waste of time because when you
have an inquest, the recommendations are not binding and don't
have to be enforced,'' she said.
``No one has to follow them if they don't want to.''
The pool, where Michael Botelho was entrapped, remained closed
Judy Duffus, senior property manager with the condo building's
Ajax-based management, Newton Trelawney, said there had been no
reports of problems with the pool.
``We're deeply distressed about what happened and our thoughts
go out to the family,'' Duffus said yesterday.
``The matter is going to be completely investigated by
engineers and then whatever it takes will be done.''
McLellan said the coroner's investigation will take a few weeks
and it's too early to decide if an inquest is warranted.