Family seeks answers after boy's drowning in UAE

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While forensic reports said the boy died due to drowning and there was no criminal intent in the case.

The devastated family of an Indian boy who drowned in a swimming pool inside a Sharjah health club is seeking answers as the Sharjah Police continue to investigate the case which is shrouded in mystery.

The 11-year-old boy's father R.J. (name withheld at request) spoke exclusively to Khaleej Times on Wednesday and said if the trainer or a lifeguard attending to the boy knew how to perform CPR, it may have saved his son's life. The family is desperately looking to learn what could've happened to their youngest son who died on Sunday.

Furthermore, it's business as usual for the Tiger Health Club in Al Qadesiah Tower, Al Nahda, as they were offering a two-month special package for swimming lessons for children worth Dh250 for 12 classes, according to a poster displayed at the health club. "Other health clubs in the area are offering 12 classes for Dh650, which is almost three times higher than this health club. I've noticed floats and pool noodles for children in the other pools. There was nothing like that here," said a resident in the building next door.

During a spot inspection, it was found that health club operations were ongoing and several parents were walking into the pool to sign up for the swimming lessons. A staff member said: "We follow all safety protocols. There is no ban on our activities. The deep end of the pool is only 175cm. How can a boy drown?"

Despite several attempts to reach out to the Tiger Properties management for a statement, there was no response.

What could have caused the drowning?

While forensic reports said the boy died due to drowning and there was no criminal intent in the case, Khaleej Times spoke to three different staff members at the centre who claimed that the boy was 'unwell' and 'suffered a seizure'. R.J. maintained that his son was extremely healthy and he played football three times a week. "My son was fit and fine. Can an unfit child play football thrice a week? During the Eid holidays, we went to Yas Island and took him for swimming because he loved it. He could negotiate shallow water, but he wanted to improve his deep-water swimming skills." The post-mortem report substantiated this and said there were no other issues or injuries on the boy.

According to the dad, the pools in the nearby swimming pools were deeper than the one in the Tiger Health Club. "We felt it was safer for my son," he said. R.J. insisted that there were no lifeguards on site and the required safety and security measures were not in place. The family, originally from Mumbai, has been living in their Al Nahda building for seven years while the father has been a resident of the UAE for 15 years.

The father lamented that the health club or the property management has not yet extended an apology since his son's death. "They reimbursed the money yesterday to my older son. Nothing will bring my son back, but there should be better rules and regulations put into place for child safety," said R.J. The boy's funeral will take place today in Sharjah.

Police set up mobile unit to register grievances

Following the drowning of an 11-year-old boy, the Sharjah Police are encouraging residents in the area to report grievances against the Tiger Health Club at a mobile police unit located outside Al Nahda Park. Sharjah Police Chief Brigadier Said Al Zari Al Shamsi told Khaleej Times: "The mobile police unit has been placed in front of Nahda Park, opposite Lulu Mall for the next 24 hours. We encourage residents to report their grievances about the fitness club, or any other issues to us."

Chain of events, according to the father

7.48 pm - 'I got a call from the trainer who sounded shocked, panicked, and unable to speak. The phone disconnects, he calls back and hands the phone to the receptionist who tells me that my baby is sick'.

8.10 pm - 'I reach the building to find my son in an ambulance below the building. Professionals are trying to revive him.'

8.48 pm - The boy is taken to Al Qasimia Hospital where he is pronounced dead.


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