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Lifeguard Thought Drowning Boy Was 'Messing Around'

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015
Lifeguard thought drowning boy was 'messing around'

A court has heard how a lifeguard thought an eight-year-old boy was 'messing around' as he drowned in a Wolverhampton swimming pool.

Lifeguard Kelly Woods denied that she was distracted while talking to a customer as Suraj Mall was face-down in the water.

The jury heard that she had been standing talking for 15 minutes and had failed to notice that Suraj was in trouble. It was alleged that the little boy was submerged face-down in the pool for one-and-a-half minutes before Woods, 31, finally dived in.

Giving evidence, she told the court that she asked two other children to see if Suraj was OK.

"I asked the girls to check if he was OK. I asked them to poke him to see if he was all right," she said. "I thought he was messing around at first. That's what children do."

She said that her full attention was on the pool at all times, and that there was no 'permanent obstruction' from where she was positioned, to interfere with her view of the pool.

Woods told the court that she could not think of any reason why she did not see the boy.

She denied that her conversation with customer Barry King resulted in her not noticing the little boy was in trouble in the water.

"I wasn't paying much attention to him (Mr King). I couldn't see him," she said. "I was looking at the pool. He wasn't obstructing my view of the pool at all. It was a very short conversation. I should have told him to go away."

She said despite interacting with the customer she was still 'scanning the pool' and 'staring straight ahead'.

The court heard that the 12-year-old girl who found Suraj called for help twice before Woods finally heard her. The child gave evidence via video-link and told the hearing that Suraj was 'rocking in the water' when she swam past him.

"His head was under the water, facing towards the deep end," the girl said. "His legs were underneath his arms. I lifted his arm and it was floppy in the water. There was bubbly foam coming out of his mouth."

The girl explained how she called the lifeguard for help.

"I was panicking. He didn't look like he was breathing. The lifeguard was standing and then she was talking. I called her and said excuse me," the child said. "She didn't hear me. She heard me the second time. There were lots of people talking so I had to shout. Then the lifeguard dived in and picked him up and carried him in her arms. He didn't have armbands on."

The Mail reports that the girl told the court that Suraj's mum saw what had happened and shouted 'that's my son, that's my son' as he was removed from the water.

The trial continues.

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