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Northeast Florida pool violations come with drowning risk for small children

by: Kevin Clark, Action News Jax Updated:

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A 2-year-old boy named Aiden Smart drowned Tuesday in a Clay County pool. Investigators say his father was on drugs when he supposed to be watching the toddler. They charged him with aggravated manslaughter.

According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: “The best way to reduce child drownings in residential pools was for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers that would prevent young children from gaining access to pools. However, there are no substitutes for diligent supervision.”


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The day after Aiden drowned, there was a fence around the backyard pool. However, an Action News Jax investigation has found that many neighborhood swimming pool violations concern inadequate barriers around the pools.

The Florida Department of Health said 12 Duval County pools were cited for fence or gate violations just this month.

Pools are closed immediately when these violations are found. They can reopen after the problems are fixed. Sometimes it takes less than a day.


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Here is the list of violators in Duval County this month, Florida Department of Health inspection records show:

Mariners Village Apartments
2130 Mayport Road

Spinnaker Reach Apartments
3875 San Pablo Road South

Arium Atlantic Beach
2160 Mayport Road

Heritage on the River (2 pools)
4375 Confederate Point Road

Preserve at Cedar River Apartments
4301 Confederate Point Road

Avesta Mandarin
3200 Hartley Road

Shoreline Community Apartments (2 pools)
4455 Confederate Point Road

Matthew’s Crossing – Pool E
401 Century 21 Drive

Baytree on Baymeadows LTD
9701 Old Baymeadows Road

Southern Oaks Community Association
7601 Timberwood Drive

In Clay County, we found five violators this month. In St. Johns County, we found four.

These violations can be pool gates or fences that don’t reach a certain height or that have holes large enough for a small child to squeeze through. It can also be as simple as a door that doesn’t latch.

“You might find a gate that’s not self-closing, not closing itself properly,” said William Nowlin, of the Duval County Health Department. “Or it’s been damaged in some way.”

Nowlin said 4 inches between gate bars are required so a person can’t get their head stuck into the fencing. This also makes the gate harder for small kids to climb.

The height of the gate or fence has to be at least 48 inches and no more than 54 inches where the latch is.