In one moment, a 4-year-old Gwinnett County boy was eating with his mother in the kitchen. And in the next, he was face down in a community pool, officials said.
Precieus Basulama drowned just before 4:30 p.m. Friday in the Landmark at Bella Vista apartment community pool.
The boy was eating in the kitchen when he ran from his mother, according to an initial incident report. She thought Basulama had run to a bedroom. But when she called out to him and he did not respond, she looked through the apartment fearing that he may have gotten outside. The woman recruited family members and the apartment complex manager to help find the child.
“Precieus is in the water,” the mother heard someone say while she was talking to the manager.
Maintenance workers were last seen on surveillance video footage leaving the pool at 3:54 p.m., Gwinnett police Cpl. Michele Pihera said. At 4:03 p.m., the child was seen throwing a book into the pool.
Nineteen minutes later, the boy’s uncle, Taty Pankwa, was seen pulling Basulama out of the water.
Pankwa was on the pool deck performing CPR on the 4-year-old when officers arrived, Pihera said Monday in a news release.
One officer jumped over the fence to help with CPR, while another officer retrieved an automated external defibrillator from his patrol car. Fire department officials continued treatment, but Basulama was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Gwinnett Medical Center in Duluth.
At this time, it is not known exactly how the child gained entry into the pool area, Pihera said.
Basulama’s uncle said a gate to the pool lacked a bar, creating a space big enough for a small child to fit through, according to Channel 2 Action News. He added another gate to the pool was open, too.
One of the responding officers confirmed that although all the pool gates were sealed with a chain a westward facing gate was missing one of its bars.
The gate has since been fixed, the apartment complex told Channel 2.
Pihera called the drowning a tragic reminder to teach children water safety.
“Please teach your children to never swim alone,” she said. “Children tend to be drawn to water. If a child goes missing, check pools and bodies of water immediately.”
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