Too many children in Texas have drowned this year – 62 to be exact. And that number doesn’t even include those who have nearly drowned, like 2-year-old Mitch Kinder. Perfect swimming weather is coming our way for Labor Day weekend, and there’s no doubt that kids will be jumping at the chance to take one last dip. Read Mitch’s story and learn our water safety tips before heading to the lake or pool.
‘Erika was only gone for a few minutes’
Russell Kinder, Mitch’s dad, came home to every parent’s worst nightmare on August 20. The fire department was in front of the house knocking down the front door, and his wife, Erika, was in the backyard performing CPR on their youngest son.
“I went into a super functional mode just trying to help in whatever way I could without even knowing what happened,” Russell said.
Russell soon learned that his 4-year-old son, Rafe, and Mitch were throwing dirt and rocks into the backyard pool when Mitch fell in. Rafe tried to pull his brother out but couldn’t reach him and ran inside for Erika, who was tracking down their new puppy.
“It all happened so fast,” Russell said. “On that timeline, the boys were out of Erika’s sight for only a few minutes.”
A bright spot on a dark day
Paramedics continued CPR and took Mitch to a nearby hospital in Plano where they worked on his heart. Twenty minutes later Mitch had a heartbeat. A helicopter flew him to Children’s, where clinicians worked on his lungs.
Children like Mitch who are underwater for a couple of minutes have a high probability for irreversible brain damage. But as the state’s first pedicatric hospital with Level 1 Trauma status, Children’s has the experts and resources needed for treating these children.
“We had a bright spot in our day when a doctor said Mitch was a candidate for a hypothermia trial using a cooling blanket to help the swelling in his brain,” Russell said. “We thought it would give him more of a chance to come away with less brain damage. It was only uphill from there. Everything has gone smashingly well at Children’s.”
As Mitch continues to recover, Erika and Russell are encouraged with his every move. At this point, he is working on gripping stuffed animals and sitting up in a wheelchair. When the medications wear off, they will find out how much brain damage remains.
“We’re in a waiting game at this point,” Russell said. “It’s very hard to have this kind of patience, but he acts more and more like our old Mitch every day. He’s always been a stubborn little boy and does things his own way. I think that’ll work in his favor this time.”
Keep your kids safe in the water
Multiple barriers to the pool can help to prevent your kids from falling in. Erika and Russell already have plans to build a secure fence around their pool.
Additional pool safety tips include moving chairs and other climbable items away from the pool fence when not in use.
Sign up for a free Water Watcher tag to make sure your kids are always supervised.