Pool where 5-year-old drowned failed 2 safety inspections, records show

Missing safety equipment caused pool to shut down twice, I-TEAM finds

By Eric Wallace - Senior Producer, I-TEAM, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer, Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After a 5-year-old boy drowned Thursday afternoon in a pool at a St. Nicholas condo complex, the I-TEAM dug into inspections for the pool and found at least two were failed over safety violations.

The boy, whose family identified him as Ismaine Assil, was pulled from the pool around 4:30 p.m. at the Preserve at St. Nicholas condominiums, on Atlantic Boulevard, west of the Hart Bridge Expressway.

He died at a hospital.

A little girl, who is Ismaine's cousin, was also in the pool and was treated at Wolfson Children's Hospital and released, Ismaine's family told News4Jax.

DOCUMENTS: October 2016 inspection report | June 2017 inspection report

Residents told News4Jax on Thursday that the pool had been closed for some time, and the I-TEAM looked into the inspection reports, finding two failed inspections since 2016.

The reports from October 2016 and June 2017 show the same three violations regarding safety equipment:

  • Handrail/Ladder: Handrails must be provided for all pool steps and must be securely anchored in the pool deck and the bottom step. “Figure Four” handrails must be securely anchored in the pool deck and must extend to above the bottom step. Ladders must be provided and must be securely anchored in the pool deck and must rest against the pool wall with a 3- to 6-inch clearance.
  • Life Ring with Rope: An 18-inch diameter lifesaving ring with sufficient rope attached to reach all parts of the pool must be provided. The rope must be in good condition. The ring must be fully accessible, visible and not tied down or locked. Pools over 50 feet in length must have a lifesaving ring along each of the longer sides of the pool. 
  • Safety Line: Pool floors with a slope break must have a safety line mounted 2 feet before the slope break towards the shallow end using cup anchors. The safety line must have visible floats. It may be removed temporarily for lap swimming only while a safety attendant or lifeguard is present.

DOES YOUR POOL PASS?: Click here for searchable database of state public pool safety inspections

The I-TEAM is looking into whether the pool ever reopened after it was closed following the October 2016 inspection.

A condo staff member said the pool was closed Thursday and has been for a while, but neighbors living in the Preserve at St. Nicholas said they see small children getting into the community's pool area all the time.

"You push the bottom of that open, and a little kid can get through," neighbor Sarah Taylor said, pointing out a broken part of the pool gate. "If the pool was completely secure, how did a 5-year-old child get in there and drown?"

An attorney for the complex released a statement to News4Jax:

All at the Preserve are deeply saddened by the tragic loss. However, until The Preserve receives further information from the various investigations, it cannot comment any further.

Taylor said something needs to be done.

"Management needs to be held responsible for everything on property. Not just the pool but everything else," Taylor said.

Pool tragedy

Sgt. Marc Musser, with the JSO homicide unit, said the two children were in the pool together when an adult saw them and yelled to maintenance workers, who then jumped the fence and tried to perform CPR. 

RELATED: 5-year-old's mom was making dinner when he slipped away to pool, aunt says

Musser said the gate around the pool was locked, and detectives are investigating how the children got into the pool area. It's unclear why there was still in water in the pool if it had been closed for a long period of time.

Police have not confirmed whether there were other children at the pool at the time.

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