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Boy, 7, drowns in unused pool at complex

Residents at Hidden Cove apartments say they have long feared something bad would happen in the murky water of their abandoned swimming pool.

"It's very dangerous," said resident Nikki Poole as she stared at the pool's thick green water.

Sunday afternoon, three boys from another apartment complex were playing near the pool, as they often did, when one fell into the 5-foot-deep water. The 7-year-old, whose name was not released late Sunday, died just before 5 p.m. at All Children's Hospital.

After hearing that a boy had fallen into the pool, residents, most of them mothers, poured from apartments to try to save the boy. When Sunstar paramedic Sean Moulton arrived, several people were giving the boy mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he said, but the child was in cardiac arrest.

Later, after the boy was pronounced dead, Moulton called the pool "horrendous."

"The pool shouldn't have any water in it," Moulton said. "If they're not going to use it, drain it."

The kidney-shaped, in-ground pool is fenced, but the gate was open Sunday. There is a small sign hanging near the pool that states it is closed. It has not been maintained in two years, residents said.

But for the families living at Hidden Cove at 3880 34th Ave. S, those precautions have never been enough. The fence, about 4 feet high, is easy enough to climb and the gate is frequently open, they said.

"Two-year-olds can't read "Pool Closed,' " said resident Becky McNeal.

"I have told her (complex manager Maxine Dozier) several times to drain that pool and cover it up," said Tina Poole, 23, mother of 3- and 7-year-olds.

Dozier had little to say about the drowning.

"Nobody has told me to cover it up," Dozier said of the swimming pool.

Nikki Poole's daughter, Christina Chappell, 8, alerted adults to the accident around 3:45 p.m. No one knows how long the boy was under water before Christina spoke up. Poole said the dead boy's two friends were standing beside the pool poking around in the water with tree branches.

Tina Poole, who said she doesn't know how to swim, jumped in, bruising her shin on the way. The water was so dirty, she couldn't find him.

"They said he was down there," Tina Poole said. "If the pool was an average pool, I could have gotten him."

Her sister, Nikki, continued poking the water with a stick and eventually found him.

"All I heard was the little boys saying, "He's in there. He's in there,' " Nikki Poole said. "When I reached down there and pulled on his foot (with a stick), it turned my stomach."

Resident Corey Jackson, 25, jumped in and pulled the boy from the pool. He said he always has worried about the children going near the water.

"I tell them time and time again, "Do not play around this pool,' " he said. "Now this happens."

Children who live at Hidden Cove tend to avoid the pool, said Nikki Poole, but children from nearby complexes often play near it. Adults at Hidden Cove are constantly shooing kids away and have even called the police, she said.

Tina Poole thought the children shouldn't be blamed.

"Kids will be kids no matter what," she said. "The pool speaks for itself."