March 27, 2009 Friday

Open verdict on condo pool drowning

By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent

A CORONER yesterday recommended that the management of a private estate in Telok Blangah relocate its closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera so it would have an uninterrupted view of the pool area in future.

This is because the CCTV camera at Pender Court condominium in Wishart Road could not record the area where a Chinese national drowned earlier this year as it was blocked by a lamp post.

An inquiry into the Jan 3 death of Mr Bai Bin, 25, yesterday heard that the private residence has no lifeguard at its two swimming pools either.

Described as a strong swimmer, Mr Bai had no known medical or personal problems. He had been working here for five months.

At about 8.30pm that day, he told his colleagues, engineers Guo Liang 29, and Tian Xi Yun, 25, that he was going for a swim.

Mr Guo later went to the pool and saw Mr Bai swimming inside the 2.6m-deep pool. He did not swim.

Ten minutes later, Mr Tian came along and joined the men at the pool.

A while later, Mr Bai swam to the other side of the pool while the two men chatted. Mr Tian became worried when he noticed that Mr Bai was submerged in the water, motionless.

He told Mr Guo, who walked over and found their friend facing downwards. He shouted but there was no response from Mr Bai. Mr Tian ran to get help from his room-mates.

Meanwhile, Mr Guo used a pole to pull Mr Bai to the side of the pool. Subsequently, the two men's room-mates arrived and helped to pull him out.

A security officer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Mr Bai, who was pronounced dead about two hours later.

State Coroner Earnest Lau said it was not entirely clear why Mr Bai drowned or what happened to him. He said he was left with little choice but to record an open verdict.