Teen's drowning in northeast Columbus highlights importance of water safety

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Family members say a 16-year-old boy who drowned in a northeast Columbus apartment pool on Tuesday did not know how to swim.

Helena Nyepan, the boy's aunt, tells 10TV Henry Leon Thompson told his mother he was going to the pool to watch his cousins, but not to go swimming.

The younger cousins and aunt said that they saw Thompson jump in the pool and never surface. The pool has no lifeguards.

According to Columbus police, several officers jumped into the pool to save the boy and began chest compressions.

He was pronounced dead at St. Ann's Hospital. The aunt says the family moved to Columbus from Liberia June 4.

A GoFundMe account was set up to help pay for the family's expenses.

The tragedy is a sad reminder of the dangers of going into the water when someone doesn't know how to swim.

At the Hilliard YMCA, which teaches an introductory class on swimming as well as classes for first-time adult swimmers, instructor Nick Sheriff says the biggest mistake parents make when taking their kids to the pool is not paying attention.

"Anyone who is a non-swimmer 5 years or younger or anyone who feels like they need a life jacket they need to have an adult within arms reach of them; actively watching them, that means not being on your cell phone not talking to somebody else right there engaging with your child," he said.

So what factors influence drownings?

  • Lack of Swimming Ability: Research has shown that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children.
  • Lack of Barriers: Barriers, such as pool fencing, which can prevent young children from gaining access to the pool. Separating the pool area from the house reduces a child's risk of drowning 83 percent compared to three-sided property-line fencing, and lastly,
  • Lack of Close Supervision