Parents urged to drain garden ponds after toddler drowns

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The Independent Online

Parents of young children were urged yesterday to fill in their garden ponds after an 18-month-old boy became the fifth victim to drown in one this year.

Robbie Lambert was playing near the ornamental fish pond at his home in Thornaby, Teesside, when he fell into the water. He died later in hospital. The tragedy underlined the threat to young children of drowning, the third most common cause of accidental death at home among the under-fives.

Jane Eason, spokeswoman of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: "This tragic accident highlights the dangers of garden ponds. The majority happen during July and August, which gives us great concern with the holidays being just around the corner. Water holds a very big fascination for children ... if people do have a young child and a garden pond, they really should think about filling the pond in until at least the children are a little bit older.

"Now that the better weather is here, and the summer holidays upon us, parents should be supervising children as much as possible. Children can drown in just a few seconds."

Robbie's parents Robert, 38, and Lindsey, 32, were described by neighbours yesterday as devoted to their son and "always playing" with him.

Mr Lambert had called an ambulance crew to their home at 3.38pm on Wednesday. He reported that his son had fallen in the fish pond and was not breathing, and an ambulance service operator offered to talk him through cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. He said he had already tried it, to no avail.

Ken Cheal, 49, co-ordinator, for the Neighbourhood Watch in the area, said the fair-haired toddler was a happy little boy with two loving parents. "You cannot have two better parents. They have another boy, Josh, who I believe is four years old and who will be devastated because he has lost his brother," he said.

An inquest into the death is expected to be opened and adjourned in the next few days.