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KwaZulu-Natal - What was to have been an exciting holiday for a Durban family turned to tragedy when their toddler drowned in a pool at a relative’s home in Richards Bay last week.
Three-year-old Haylee-Anne Parsad had accompanied her maternal grandmother for a holiday to a relative’s home in Richards Bay where the incident occurred.
Haylee’s parents are separated and she lived with her mother and grandmother.
Speaking to POST this week, the toddler’s father Ash Parsad, said he was devastated by what had transpired and was trying to piece together what had happened.
Parsad said the information available indicated Haylee was with his mother-in-law at a relative’s home where they had been staying for the past week.
He said his mother-in-law was having lunch so a few relatives decided to take Haylee for a walk through their factory premises on the property.
“I don't know what happened after that. All I know is that she disappeared and was found floating in the pool,” said Parsad.
When Haylee was discovered in the pool, relatives jumped in and rushed her to The Bay Hospital in Richards Bay. It is still unclear how long she had been under water before she was found.
What followed for the distraught family was an agonising period of hope and prayer as doctors worked tirelessly to save Haylee.
“I spoke to the doctors and they told me Haylee came in ice cold and they worked to revive her for over an hour. I broke down when I heard how they had tried to save my baby,” said Parsad.
Haylee was placed on a ventilator as doctors tried to get her to start breathing on her own.
“They tried everything they could but they could not save her. She was unable to breathe on her own and died in the early hours of Friday. I loved my baby. I had not seen her for an entire week and now I won’t see her ever again,” said Parsad.
Haylee’s grandmother is said to be severely traumatised by the incident and had to be hospitalised.
When POST visited their Avoca Hills home on Monday, Haylee’s uncle, Lyle, said they did not wish to speak to the media and were still waiting for more information.
“We can’t really say anything right now. Everyone is traumatised. My sister is only 27 years old and she has lost her child,” said Lyle.
He said they would speak to the media once they had more information.
Haylee’s mother was not available for comment. The funeral took place on Sunday.
Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed the incident.
“We can confirm an incident that occurred where a three-year-old allegedly drowned in Palingdraai, Richards Bay. The local police are investigating an inquest and circumstances around the incident,” said Captain Zwane.
Meanwhile, Netcare 911 issued a warning last week over an increasing number of drownings or near drownings since the beginning of this year.
“We responded to more than 218 callouts to drownings and near drownings from January to October this year. This is most alarming given the fact that the long summer holiday still lies ahead; a time of year which historically includes large numbers of drownings,” said Netcare 911 Operations Director Peter Feurstein.
Last year, Netcare 911 responded to 102 drowning and near drowning cases in October and December alone.
He said toddlers were particularly at risk.
Said Feurstein: “Toddlers are particularly vulnerable to drowning as they have no idea about the dangers of water and tend to be inquisitive. Approximately 75% of all drownings in South Africa each year occur among children under the age of five years. If one has young children, vigilance is key in keeping them safe.” - POST