DUBAI // A lifeguard who left a hotel pool unattended for 15 minutes and returned to find a guest drowning at the bottom of the pool has been sentenced to one month in prison and fined Dh2,000.
RP, 31, a Filipino, said he left the pool at the Country Club Hotel to get more towels, but when he returned two children informed him a swimmer was lying motionless on the bottom of the pool.
He dived in and fished the man out and tried to resuscitate him but was unsuccessful. The swimmer was taken to Rashid Hospital and placed in Intensive Care but died two days later.
Prosecutors said the incident took place on July 22 last year. The lifeguard said he returned to the pool at about 10.30am when the children approached.
AR, 14, from Belgium, and his brother, 11, reported the accident. They saw the man swimming in the pool before climbing out. "About a minute later he dived back in, but he did not come up again and just remained on the bottom motionless," recalled the elder brother.
They found the lifeguard and told him what had happened.
"The two kids told me a man had remained on the bottom of the pool for nearly two minutes, so I hurried to the pool, jumped and pulled him out," recalled the lifeguard. He then tried to resuscitate the man while his colleague called an ambulance.
He said he had seen the man - Ignatius Joseph, 38, from India - at the pool before and that he appeared to be a strong swimmer, adding that "I left for only 15 minutes."
The swimmer and his wife, CK, 34, had been living in the country for the past ten years. "We had a membership to the swimming pool but only my husband used it. He went to swim because he was feeling depressed because he had recently been made unemployed," said the widow.
She said her husband suffered from diabetes but rarely took his medicine, insisting he would use sport to keep the condition under control. He learnt to swim about a month before his death.
His widow told the court she did not think there was any negligence by hotel staff and that she assumed her husband had suffered a heart attack.
The Misdemeanours Court found the lifeguard guilty on a charge of causing death.
The lifeguard will be deported after serving his jail term.