A wake up call on pool gate safety

24 February 2016

Have you ever propped your pool gate open? Maybe you thought it was just for a moment and couldn’t do any harm? Here’s a story that should make you think again.

A couple on the Gold Coast could face a criminal charge over the drowning death of a four-year old neighbour in their pool.

William Chase Corben was found in his neighbour’s pool in February last year, after the gate had been propped open with a block of wood.

William had gone to the home of his neighbour’s, Rodney and Lisa Stewart, with his older brother to play with their two children. It appears Mr Stewart had propped open the pool gate while mowing the lawn and the gate remained that way after the children finished playing in the pool.

William slipped back into the pool area unnoticed during a game of hide and seek, while Mrs Stewart was in the bathroom getting ready for a meeting with friends.

Queensland’s Deputy State Coroner John Lock said "all would have been different if the gates had not been propped open". He believes there’s sufficient information for him to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who could charge the couple with the offence of “leaving a child under 12 unattended”.

On average here in WA, pool gates that are propped open or not correctly closed or latched account for almost 40% of backyard pool drownings in children under the age of 5.

The Royal Life Saving Society WA is urging all pool owners to ensure their pool gate self-closes and self-latches, and is never propped open.  For more information on how to ensure your backyard pool is safe head to our Your Safety pages.