Lifeguard Kelly Woods was too engrossed in a conversation with a fitness club member to notice that an 8-year old boy was in serious trouble at another end of the pool. When she finally ended her 15 minute conversation, she noticed that Suraj Mall was floating lifeless and face down in the water.
Woods, who was the only lifeguard on duty at the Wolverhampton Fitness and Swimming Center, dove in to rescue the boy assisted by another off-duty lifeguard. Both women worked to revive him but he was pronounced dead later at a local hospital.
“She was at work and got talking to a customer while she was on duty,” Mr James Puzey, prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Crown Court. “A few minutes later a boy – Suraj Mall – was found floating face down in the water.”
According to the Telegraph, Lajla Kaur, 35, went for a brief induction at the centre’s gym and returned to see her four children in the pool’s shallow end through a glass window.
She then went to get change for a locker and on returning couldn’t see her son.
“Suraj wasn’t there and I kind of panicked,” she said. “When I got the children’s attention they couldn’t hear me through the glass. When they did finally understand they pointed towards the changing room.
“Then I heard the alarm and people were coming out of the pool.”
Now Woods is on trial for allowing the young boy to drown while she engaged in a lengthy conversation with one of the club’s customers, which is strictly prohibited by employee rules. Mall’s mother was one of the witnesses who testified against Woods.
Five other lifeguards were also called upon to testify at the trial, with one of them telling the court that Woods was engaged in a conversation with a customer lasting between 10 and 15 minutes. The customer himself took the stand and insisted that their conversation didn’t last more than 2 minutes and denied that their conversation caused enough distraction for her to avoid doing her job.
Boy, eight, drowned while lifeguard chatted to customer
Boy drowned ‘while lifeguard was chatting’