Dad tells inquest his three-year-old son's Leeds pool death 'should have' been prevented

The father of an "amazing" three-year-old boy who drowned in a Leeds leisure centre pool told an inquest his son's death "could and should have been prevented".

Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:33 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:41 pm

An inquest jury at Wakefield Coroner's Court was told Rocco Wright's organs were used to help others after he drowned in the pool at the David Lloyd centre in Moortown, Leeds in April 2018.

GIving evidence, Rocco's father Steven Wright said he was with Rocco and his daughter at the poolside on the morning of April 21, 2018, and was planning to take his son swimming while his daughter had her regular lesson.

Mr Wright said he had just been told the lesson had been cancelled when he realised Rocco was no longer by his side.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Rocco Wright

Mr Wright said he started looking for Rocco in a corridor as he thought he may be hiding and then looked in the baby pool.

He said he started panicking when he could not see Rocco there.

Mr Wright said: "I turned round and looked at the main pool and that's when I saw him.

"I just saw an outline at the bottom of the pool and I instantly knew it was Rocco.

"I dived in and got him out to the side and screamed for help."

Attempts were made to revive Rocco at the poolside and he was taken to Leeds General Infirmary where he was declared dead the following day

Mr Wright told the jury: "We as a family are concerned at the levels of health and safety and whether they have been resolved, especially the lifeguards' visibility at the pool area on the day.

"We don't want this to happen to anyone else.

"We believe Rocco's death could and should have been prevented."

A mother who was with her child at a swimming lesson on the morning Rocco drowned said she found it "strange" that there was only one lifeguard on duty at the David Lloyd centre pool.

In a statement read to the inquest jury, Ruth Hassall said: "I did and still do find it strange that David Lloyd have only one lifeguard. The council pools have two lifeguards."

Area coroner Jonathan Leach told the jury it is thought Rocco had been in the water for at least two minutes before he was pulled out.

Pathologist Kirsten Hope said she was told before she conducted a post-mortem examination that he had been in the water for five minutes.

Dr Hope said that Rocco was put on a ventilator in hospital but declared dead the following day when his organs were used to save the lives of a number of other people.

The part-time lifeguard on duty on the morning Rocco drowned told the inquest he was a 17-year-old student at the time.

William 'Billy' Jayne, now aged 19, told the jury inquest he had completed a four-day lifeguard training course followed by an exam on the fifth day in August 2017.

Mr Jayne said the part time lifeguard role he secured at the David Lloyd club was his first ever job and that he started work at the centre in late January 2018 and had shadowed other lifeguards four or five times in February 2018

He said he had started working on his own doing weekend shifts in March 2018

Mr Jayne had done seven or eight weekend shifts before April 22 2018, when the incident happened.

Mr Jayne said at 9.30am that morning he was sat in the lifeguard's high chair and had just done a headcount and counted 38 people in the pool when he saw someone jump in and heard a shout before he ran to help.

The inquest heard Mr Jayne started chest compressions on Rocco.

Rocco's mother, Catharine Wright said in a statement read to the court: "He was the most amazing, happy go lucky boy you could ever hope to meet."

Mrs Wright added in a statement: "We are devastated by his loss. Rocco really loved life and we have been left with a void that can never be filled.

"Rocco never sat still and loved nothing more than being a superhero, especially Batman, who was his favourite."