Where were the lifeguards, demands mum of eight year-old boy in pool drowning tragedy

THE family of an eight-year-old boy who drowned in a swimming pool in North Yorkshire paid tribute to him today.

Kaimen Ward, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was swimming in Hambleton Leisure Centre in the town when the tragedy happened at around 4.25pm yesterday.

He was taking part in a "fun session" - an open swimming session for all ages - when he got into difficulty and had to be pulled from the water by a lifeguard.

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He was given treatment on the poolside before being transferred to the town's Friarage Hospital, where efforts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Kaimen's family today paid an emotional tribute to the youngster, who celebrated his eighth birthday exactly one week before he died.

They said in a statement released through North Yorkshire Police: "We are struggling to come to terms with what has happened to Kaimen. It has left us completely devastated.

"He is such a lovely young boy, the best son and brother anyone could wish for.

"We would like to thank everybody for all the love and support we have received."

At the time of the tragedy Kaimen's mother, Caroline, 41, was not with her son, who has a twin sister Ella Rose and a 19-year-old brother, and had to be informed by the police of his death.

She questioned how he was able to get into difficulties at the council swimming pool.

"What I want to know is where the hell were the lifeguards?" she asked.

"It is peak season at the swimming pool so how did he go unsupervised?"

Councillor Peter Wilkinson, cabinet member for health, which incorporates leisure, said the tragedy happened while a public swimming session was ending and a lesson was beginning, meaning there were more staff on the poolside than is best practice.

He said: "There were three qualified lifeguards on duty at the time, which is more than required.

"The tragedy actually happened just at the end of the fun session so there were even more staff on.

"There was a minimum of at least five staff."

Coun Wilkinson believed Kaimen drowned in the centre's 25m pool.

According to the council's website, the baths have "fun features including flume, waterfall, waves and geysers".

It adds: "Purely for the kids there is the Hyper Holidays activities running over the school holidays and it is also the perfect venue for kids' birthday parties."

The leisure centre will be carrying out its own internal investigation into the incident and North Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive are also investigating.

Cllr Wilkinson said the leisure centre had never had an incident like this in 20 years and added: "We offer our sincere condolences to the family of this little boy.

"We could play the blame game right now but that wouldn't change the tragedy of this eight-year-old boy losing his life."

The leisure centre is expected to remain closed until further notice both as a mark of respect and so the investigation can continue.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: "Police inquiries into the death remain ongoing. The Health and Safety Executive have also been notified."

Officers have also appealed for anyone with any information to contact North Yorkshire Police on 0845 60 60 24 7.

An inquest into Kaimen's death is expected to open and adjourn on Monday.