Friday, July 13, 2012

Swimming Pool Dangers

During the past few weeks in Montreal and the surrounding areas we have heard about young toddlers drowning in backyard pools. Each time I heard that this tragedy has  happened only brings me to feel deeply saddened about the loss of  these very young  children. Actually I feel  heart broken  which  brings me back to my own sudden loss of Kelly-Anne. A loss is a loss no matter the circumstances, but  knowing that these young parents are going through the same as what  Kelly-Anne's family went through leaves me feeling ill. That gut wrenching  pain returns and who better understand the families of these children better that myself or anyone who has walked in my shoes. 

In a matter of a couple of seconds these families lives have now forever changed. The guilt, the blame, the I should of known better,  the I am a  bad parent will torment these parents for a long time to come.

Why did these drownings  happen? Where were the parents at the time of the drowning? Why was the child allow to  enter the pool? Was there a proper security fence around the pool? Did the adult suddenly become distracted? At the end of the day, these children lost their lives in what  was  suppose to be a family fun pool. Those families will never look at the  pool in same way again, and I would not be surprised if they all eventually move out of their homes.

Thinking back to when the girls were young brings me to the days when we had an above ground pool in our back yard. We moved into the house when Kelly-Anne and Kim were 6 and 5 respectfully. Ground rules were set in place. I even remember hiring someone to give the girls swimming lessons in the pool. Their friends would came over to swim and frolic  and so did their parents. Never were the girls or their friends out of view. The pool  was accessible  by a ladder that when not in use was raised. The deck was  not attached to the pool. There was a link fence that enclosed the back yard. All security measures were in place and the rules were followed and respected by all.

Little toddlers move quickly. They have to be supervised at all times and swimming lessons are a must. Even if  the parents are not keen on swimming they must  set aside their own feelings and allow their children  to have lessons. I can remember myself as a young child being  bused from elementary school once a week to an indoor pool where we were  given lessons.I am going back to the early 60s but even then knowing how to swim was important.  The school made  it their responsibility to make swimming a part of the gym program. Swimming lessons should be just as important as leaning to read and write.

Kelly-Anne and Kim  learnt to swim early in life  and I do not have to tell you how accomplished they both were and as Kim is still today in the pool.

Each family who owns a backyard pool and has a young family needs to:

1. establish ground rules for the  children and for visitors
2. ensure that  the children get swimming lessons
3. ensure that there is ALWAYS an adult supervising the pool
4. surround the pool with the proper fencing and a secure lock
5. ensure that the adults supervising are not taken up with distractions
6. ensure tht  if the child is in the house, that they cannot on their own leave by an opened door

Remember, we never leave a toddler alone in a bathtub, so why would be leave one alone near a pool.

Have a safe and fun summer with your families.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Remembering Janet, Kelly-Anne and Anne-Marie

Here is an article that I would like to share with you. Brenda O'Farrell  remembers Janet Kuchinsky, Kelly-Anne and Anne-Marie Edward. It is articles like this that help us to continue to remember those who have lost their lives through selfish, senseless acts acts of crime. We need to remember how  these three beautiful talented women died, but equally too how they lived their lives and what contributions they made to their communities. I had the good fortune to have met Janet a few weeks prior to her death. The Grier Park Memorial is a constant reminder to all that pass through the park that violence of any kind cannot be tolerated in our society.

Somewhere in the files of the Montreal Police major crimes division is a folder with Janet Kuchinsky’s name on it. Her dossier is what is referred to as a cold case.

Kuchinsky was a 42-year-old mother of three who was bludgeoned to death just off a bicycle path at the north end of Sources Blvd. in Pierrefonds on July 10, 1999. No one has ever been charged with her murder.

She had left her home just after 6 p.m. July 10 to go out on one of her frequent walks. According to reports, police suspect she was killed soon after. Her body was found the next day.

There was no evidence of sexual assault, and theft was ruled out as a possible motive for the attack. During the course of the investigation, many tips were followed. But all led to dead-ends. A $20,000 reward was posted for information leading to the arrest of a suspect went unclaimed.

So the question remains unanswered: Who killed Janet Kuchinsky?

I was reminded of this case last week by a colleague. The topic came up in the wake of the news of an attack on a female cyclist in Longueuil. The events in these cases seem so random. There is no apparent reason for why they happened. And that is perhaps why these stories stick in our minds.

A park bench in Grier Park in Pierrefonds bears Kuchinsky’s name. It was installed in October 2005 as a memorial. It is one of three benches that pay tribute to other Pierrefonds women who were victims of a violet death: Anne-Marie Edward, one of the 14 victims of the massacre at École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989; and Kelly-Anne Drummond, a 24-year-old daycare educator who was stabbed in the back during a domestic dispute on Oct. 3, 2004. She died of her injuries two days later in hospital.

When Kuchinsky’s bench was unveiled, the pro-mayor of the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough, Bert Ward, said the memorials provide a place where people can sit, meditate and pray. The best thing these memorials do, I think, is serve as a reminder.

And as the 13th anniversary of Kuchinsky’s death approaches, we need this reminder. As time marches on, we need occasions to pause. We might never know the answers to certain questions. We might never learn the reason behind what appears to us as the randomness of others. But as long as we remember, we continue to mourn a little and heal a little bit more.

I welcome your comments.

Brenda O’Farrell