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Even Older Kids Can Drown with Adults Around, Grieving Parents Warn

The Short of It

An Ohio couple is sharing the heartbreaking story of how their 8-year-old son drowned during a pool party to prevent this tragedy from happening to anyone else.

The Lowdown

It's unthinkable: an 8-year-old drowning in the shallow end of a pool while surrounded by adults at a party. But it happened to Amare Cole Smith, and now his father, Bradley Smith, is warning other parents about the hidden danger that ended his son's life.

It was during a basketball team pool party in Columbus that the tragedy took place. Smith explains the scene: "[The kids] were just so happy to get to the pool. They were just jumping in one by one by one. I wish I would have made him wait for me like I usually do."

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But while Smith was making himself a plate of food, his son drowned. It's not entirely clear what happened to Amare. One of the children told the adults the little boy was swimming after a basketball. The grieving dad told local news station 10 that he believes Amare just slipped off the slope from the shallow end into the deep end and took in water without making a sound.

"If they panic and go under, you're not going to get a splash. You're not going to get a warning sign. You're going to turn around, and your son is going to be fighting for his life," Smith said through tears.

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Tragically, efforts to revive the boy using CPR at the scene failed, and after a few days of hospitalization, the Smiths made the heart-wrenching decision to end Amare's life support.

The Upshot

Now Smith is hoping what happened to the son he describes as a "champion" and a "fighter" won't happen to another child. He urges other parents to get into the pool with their kids and seek out where the deep end starts together so they know.

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As a parent of an almost 8-year-old myself, I'll admit I typically assume she is fine in the pool since she knows how to swim. I'm always there to watch her, but I'm not as concerned about her safety as I am about my younger children. This heartbreaking story has reminded me that even an older child can succumb to the dangers of playing in the water. So thank you to the Smith family for sharing your story, even through your grief.

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