Kylie Parker

"Do anything humanly possible to keep your children safe"

On a warm summer’s day in February 2019 Kylie Parker was spending a slow-paced day with her children after they’d all been at a friend’s house the night before. At around 10am they decided to set up the Wii console and play some games, before her 7 and 8-year-old daughters said they wanted to go in the pool. In the meantime, their younger brother Jake, aged 3, was running around inside the house chasing the cat. It was just a normal day.

Before long the older girls had finished their swimming fun, but on their way out of the pool area a pool toy had become wedged in the gate, stopping it from closing properly – unfortunately no-one noticed this. The day continued and Kylie took a quick visit to the toilet, just 30 seconds, before returning into the living room. Jake was no-where to be seen so Kylie, concerned he might have raced out the front of the house and be in danger, says she went to look for him.

“My first thought was that he must be playing hide and seek, but then as the panic set in my voice went from calmly calling him to screaming his name. I ran to the back door and to the pool, then I saw him face down in the water. My brain had not quite registered what was going on, but I remember diving in the water and pulling him to the surface expecting him to breathe straight away. When he didn’t, I screamed for help, hoping my neighbour would hear!”

Kylie raced inside with Jake in her arms before starting compressions. She then scooped his lifeless body up again and ran out to the front driveway - it was there her neighbour took over CPR until the ambulance arrived. Jake was taken to hospital where medical staff continued to work on him for a few hours. But it was too late, there was nothing they could do to bring him back, and he was pronounced dead at 2.58pm.Jake in a blue wheelie bin

Jake’s death had a profound impact on Kylie and her daughters. “My girls saw everything, from me pulling him out of water to starting compressions - my daughter called 000. They were there in the hospital while the doctors were working on him, and they there when the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do. My girls struggle with blaming themselves just as much as I struggle with that. They watched me fall apart. I was admitted into the mental hospital shortly after Jake’s death which is why we as a family still attend grief counselling and therapy.”

They moved out of the home where Jake drowned, because they couldn’t face being there or being near a pool. Kylie says water has been a big issue for her. “The girls have been great and were able to step into the water shortly after Jake’s death, but it’s been a very different story for me. I struggle daily with water being so close – we live near beaches and have friends with pools - even drinking water some days is hard.”

Jake with his two sistersSince Jake’s death Kylie has become a strong advocate for drowning prevention, joining Royal Life Saving WA as a Keep Watch Parent Ambassador. She says if small things had been different on the day Jake drowned, he may still be here today, and she wants other parents to know how to protect their children. “I have thought a lot about what could have prevented this tragedy – had I not gone to the toilet when I did, had I been watching him at that time, or if there was some sort of a pool gate alarm to let me know the gate was wedged open. Drowning is 100% preventable but we never believe it will happen to us, or that we will become a devastating statistic. Toddlers are full of wonder and curiosity which makes them so unpredictable and that's the scary part.”

For Kylie life since Jake’s death has been a whirlwind. “A few months later I unexpectedly fell pregnant with James - going through the pregnancy and dealing with the loss of Jake was unbearable on some days - but I think having James and support from Royal Life Saving and family is what got me through the hard days. James was born on Jake’s first heavenly birthday, at 3 months early and I truly believe he was a gift from his big brother."

The year after Jake's death Kylie started conducting Royal Life Saving Heart Beat Club courses for families in Geraldton, after realising there was a lack of this kind of first aid training in her town. She’s partnered with Royal Life Saving Trainer Dionne Adams and hopes to eventually become a trainer herself. Kylie says educating parents about drowning prevention is her way of honouring Jake’s life. “Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children aged 0-5. It takes a child less than 30 seconds to get into trouble around water, so always keep watch, teach your children to swim, and learn CPR. Drowning is silent so you need to keep gates closed, and if possible locked when not in use, or install a pool gate alarm – they don’t cost much and could save your baby’s life. Do anything humanly possible to keep your children safe because you never know what can happen or what children are capable of.”


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