A 17-year-old girl who died Wednesday after she was found on the bottom of an apartment complex swimming pool drowned, probably after suffering a seizure, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office found.
Raena Bell, a student at Meadowdale High School in Dayton, had a history of seizures, coroner’s office Director Ken Betz said Friday. She was in the pool at the Heritage Knoll Apartments, on the 5500 block of Bigger Road, swimming with other children when one noticed she had been underwater longer than expected.
“That’s how quick it took,” Betz said. “It’s an absolute tragedy.”
The pool was inspected Thursday, but nothing was found that would have contributed to the girl’s death, Bill Wharton, spokesman for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, said Thursday.
County officials cited the pool after a May 23 inspection, noting that water circulation system was not in compliance and that there were no signs that posted notices about the lack of a lifeguard, that swimming alone was not recommended or that children should be supervised.
Wharton said those were “non-critical items” that would not have caused the closing of the pool, adding that “historically, it’s been a pretty good operation.”
Bell was pulled from the pool about 3 p.m. and rescuers started CPR before paramedics could arrive. She was transported to Maimi Valley South, where doctors pronounced her dead about 4 p.m. Her family told the Dayton Daily News that Bell was a strong swimmer who wanted to become a lifeguard.
Bell death came one day before the Ohio Department of Health announced that near-drowning incidents rise considerablly during the summer months, with July having by far the most incidents, and asked that parents closely monitor children’s play during water activities. In 2012, 29 children and 69 adults died from drowning across Ohio, according to preliminary health department death certificate data.
“Playing in the water is an excellent way to have fun and get exercise,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the Ohio department of Health. “However, water can be dangerous. Respecting the risks water poses is the best way to keep our families safe.”
Water safety tips
— Install a four-sided isolated fence with self-closing and self-latching gates, preferably separate from the house and yard area.
— Never swim alone
— Supervise young children at all times
— Begin teaching children to swim early
— Use life jackets when in or around natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers and ponds. Ohio law requires children under 10 to where a life jacket at all times on boats under 18 fet long.
— Learn CPR
— Install drain covers and safety releases to avoid entanglement and entrapment in pools and spas.