x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Funeral for 'such a lovely boy' who drowned at friend's party

Questions linger over the death of Bonie, 9, who drowned in a swimming pool during a friend's birthday celebration in Bur Dubai.

l. The parents of nine-year-old Bonie Joseph Jr, who drowned in a pool in Bur Dubai, grieve at his funeral at Mar Thomas Chuch in Dubai.
l. The parents of nine-year-old Bonie Joseph Jr, who drowned in a pool in Bur Dubai, grieve at his funeral at Mar Thomas Chuch in Dubai.

DUBAI // The mother of the nine-year-old boy who drowned in a swimming pool while attending a friend's birthday party collapsed across her son's casket at his funeral yesterday.

Hundreds of people - including his parents, Bonie Sr and Anisha, and his four-year-old sister Angelina - attended the service for Bonie Joseph Jr at The Mar Thoma church in Jebel Ali.

Mr Joseph tried in vain to console his wife as she wept uncontrollably after seeing her son in the coffin.

"It is a difficult moment for the family. They are devastated by the death," said Afsal Majeed, a family friend. "He was such a lovely boy."

Bonie Joseph Jr was attending a friend's birthday party on Tuesday at the New Gold Souk tower in Bur Dubai. He was in the pool with 10 other children when he drowned at about 7pm. He was rushed to Latifa Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

"Though he was young, he exhibited great values and he had a charisma that attracted everyone," said Father David Dominique, who conducted the service. "Let us pray for the family so that the Lord may comfort them."

After the service, the open casket remained in the church for more than an hour so mourners could pay their last respects.

The mother of the boy whose birthday party it was, who asked not to be named, said she had tried her best to resuscitate Bonie.

"I pulled him out of the water and tried to resuscitate him. He was vomiting but remained unconscious," she said.

Other parents whose children attended the party said they were in shock.

"My son was also in the swimming pool. The water was not deep," said Saji Thomas, who attended the funeral service with his son. "I think Bonie might have hit the floor of the pool when he jumped and lost consciousness."

He said the children were told to bring a swimsuit to the party if they wanted to swim.

Residents of the tower have criticised management for not having heeded their calls to put a lifeguard on duty.

"We may have a lifeguard very soon," said an employee at the management office who did not want to be identified.

He said strict rules were already in place that residents should not allow any visitors to use the facilities. "We have informed every tenant in the building about our rules. It is sad that they did not follow it. We are not able to understand how the children went upstairs to the swimming pool when the party was being held inside the flat," he said.

The management office employee said that Bonie drowned in the adults' swimming pool. "There is a small pool next to the big pool for children to use. It is not known why he ventured into the big pool when he does not know how to swim."

He said the Dubai Municipality had inspected the pools last year and allowed them to operate without a lifeguard.

"They asked us to put up a notice saying that a lifeguard is not available and children below the age of 14 years should be accompanied by an adult," he said.

The Dubai Municipality said it had yet to receive a report from police so that it could begin an investigation into possible negligence.

The Dubai Police could not be reached for comment.

frahman@thenational.ae