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Ohio Family Hires Attorney After 6-Year-Old Drowns During Swimming Lesson

Niguel Hamilton

Niguel Hamilton, 6, was taking swimming lessons at a community rec center when he went under. (Image courtesy of the Hamilton family)

A swimming lesson turned tragic last week after a 6-year-old Dayton, Ohio boy was pulled from the bottom of a community center swimming pool.

The family of Niguel Hamilton said there were multiple swimming instructors present when the little boy drowned, the Dayton Daily News reported. Hamilton, 6, passed away at a children’s hospital on Sunday, July 15, three days after instructors retrieved him from the bottom of an indoor pool at the Lohrey Recreation Center.

The boy was taking swimming lessons at the rec center last Thursday when tragedy struck, according to the family. Hamilton’s grandfather, Willie Hamilton, said the last thing he remembers about the swim lesson is spotting Niguel in the deep end with the rest of his class. He had just jumped off the diving board, with help from one of the instructors, but was nowhere to be found minutes later.

One of the instructors soon noticed Niguel wasn’t in the water and ask his grandfather if he’d left to go to the bathroom.

“I got up, went to the bathroom and looked around and couldn’t find him,” Hamilton told the newspaper.

That’s when instructors cleared the pool in search of the little boy. Hamilton said he went outside to look for his grandson and when he returned, he learned that Niguel had been found at the bottom of the pool. Two instructors performed CPR on the child before he was rushed to the hospital.

It was too late, however. Niguel was brain dead and in a coma, according to his family. Hamilton said Niguel’s mother and their relatives are “having a hard time.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley addressed the tragedy in a statement Wednesday, saying she and her commission have reached out to Hamilton’s family to offer their support “during this incredibly difficult time.”

“We know the community wants answers. We want to know the circumstances surrounding this incident as much as everyone else,” Whaley said. “An investigation began immediately and will be ongoing during the coming weeks … It’s too early to have details on the events of that night, but it is our commitment to the family, and the community, that this work will be thorough and complete.”

Ohio Department of Health data puts drowning as one of the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths among children in the state. Abbey Rymarczyk, a community relations prevention coordinator with Dayton Children’s hospital warned that drownings can happen in less than a minute and often go unnoticed until it’s too late.

“Drowning is silent, there is typically very little splashing, waving or noise when a child is in distress,” Rymarczyk said, adding that children should always be within arms reach of an adult while swimming.

She also stressed the importance of adult supervision when children are in the water, even when a lifeguard is on duty.

“A lifeguard’s job is to enforce pool rules, scan, rescue and resuscitate, not keep an eye on any one child,” Rymarczyk said.

Hamilton’s family has since hired civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to help them get justice for their son. Crump, who’s represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and other high profile cases, is helping plan the young boy’s funeral service. In a statement, he said he also plans to put pressure on the city to explain how Niguel could’ve died.

“The family has gotten no answers at this point,” Crump said.

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