The father of a three-year-old boy who drowned in a leisure centre pool has told an inquest his son’s death “could and should have been prevented”.
Steven Wright said his panic grew as he searched for his son, Rocco, at the David Lloyd centre in Moortown, Leeds, before spotting him at the bottom of the main pool.
Mr Wright planned to take Rocco swimming while his other sister had a lesson at the centre.
However, his sister's lesson was cancelled at short notice when an instructor called in sick, which led to "confusion" and "chaos" at the poolside, the court heard.
Giving evidence at an inquest in Wakefield on Monday, Mr Wright criticised the visibility lifeguards had at the poolside.
He said: “We as a family are concerned at the levels of health and safety at the David Lloyd pool on the day Rocco died and hope they have been resolved – especially the lifeguard visibility at the pool area.
“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.
“We believe Rocco’s death could and should have been prevented.”
Mr Wright told how he realised Rocco was no longer by his side and described how he began to search for his son, still clutching his life jacket.
He said: “I looked around and noticed ‘Rocco isn’t there’.
“[Rocco] had a natural fear of water so the last place I thought he’d gone was in the pool.”
The inquest heard that Mr Wright searched the poolside and an adjoining corridor.
It was only after finding he was not in the baby pool that he “started to really, really panic”.
“That’s when I turned round and looked at the main pool,” he said. “That’s when I saw him.”
Mr Wright said: “I just saw an outline at the bottom of the pool. It was Rocco.”
The dad-of-two dived in and dragged his son out.
Asked about his son’s attitude to the water, Mr Wright said Rocco would not jump in by himself and would only get into a pool with his help. He agreed Rocco may have become more confident in the water following a recent family holiday in Barbados.
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Pathologist Kirsten Hope said that Rocco was put on a ventilator in hospital but declared dead the following day. His family donated Rocco’s organs which were used to save the lives of a number of other people.
Rocco’s mother, Catharine Wright, said in a statement that her son had “never been a natural water baby”.
She said: “I would not say he was scared of water but fearful of getting in at first.”
Mrs Wright said Rocco was “the most amazing, happy, joyful boy you could ever wish to meet”.
The inquest is expected to last for seven days.