Man visiting Fullerton is fourth to drown in O.C. since Saturday and fifth in last week

By Greg Hardesty

A 34-year-old man visiting friends who attend Cal State Fullerton drowned in a Fullerton apartment pool Monday morning — the fifth person to drown in Orange County in less than a week, and the fourth since Saturday.

Fullerton Police and Fullerton Fire paramedics responded to an 11:24 a.m. 911 call Aug. 24 regarding a possible drowning in a community pool inside the Q H Gardens apartment complex at 2400 N. Associated Rd., FPD Sgt. Kathryn Hamel said.

The man was discovered by another person lying face down in the pool, Hamel said. That person pulled him out of the water and began CPR until paramedics arrived.

The 34-year-old was transported to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton but died, Hamel said.

The drowning is the first in Fullerton this year but the 26th in Orange County year to date. Last year through Aug. 24, there were 23 drowning deaths in Orange County, according to the coroner.

Orange County Coroner statistics show that 22 people have officially drowned year to date through Aug. 21, but four cases are pending autopsies. Those cases include today’s drowning, along with one reported Saturday, when a 27-year-old man drowned while free-diving in Crystal Cove; one reported Sunday, when the body of a 61-year-old man who fell into Irvine Lake was found; and another on Sunday, when a 39-year-old man’s body washed up on Huntington City Beach.

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, a 60-year-old man died in a pool while exercising in north Orange County and on Friday, Aug. 21, a 59-year-old woman died in her pool at her home in south county.

Of the 22 official drownings so far this year, three were ruled suicides by the OC Coroner.

Accidental drowning victims have included a 1-year-old girl in La Palma who slipped into a pool in January at a home, a 93-year-old woman who died in a bathtub in Irvine, and a 38-year-old man who drowned in a community spa in Anaheim in June.

The Orange County Fire Chiefs Association (OCFCA) has made water safety one of its major priorities, said Randy Bruegman, chief of Anaheim Fire & Rescue who also serves as president of OCFCA.

So has the county, which recently formed a task force on drowning prevention, he noted.

“This is a countywide issue,” Bruegman said. “The fire chiefs association has been looking at how we can increase the level of awareness among members of the public to reduce the number of what in most cases are preventable deaths.”

Anaheim Fire & Rescue urges the public to follow its “ABCs” of water safety:

A – Adult Supervision

Assign an adult “Water Watcher” to watch the water at all times without distraction.

Never leave children in or around a pool unattended.

Do not rely on floatation devices.

Bruegman said that too often a child can slip into a pool despite the presence of many people.

“They can get lost in the crowd,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to have a water watcher. It just takes a few seconds, and time is not your ally when you are under water.”

B – Barriers

Install and maintain proper fencing around pools that are self-enclosing and self-latching.

Use multiple layers of protection including safety covers, gate alarms and door alarms.

C – Classes

Learn CPR, First-Aid and rescue attempts.

Sign up your family for swim classes.

Keep rescue equipment such as a life-saving ring and CPR sign posted by the pool.

For more information, visit Anaheim.net/fire or call (714) 765-4040.