Girl dies days after being pulled from Castlewood pool

Community shaken after summer swim gone wrong

A young Pleasanton girl died in the hospital days after being pulled unresponsive from the Castlewood Country Club pool, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office reported Wednesday morning.

Eight-year-old Ann Cai was under the water for only a matter of seconds before becoming unresponsive while in the pool during recreational swim with others enjoying one of the final hot days of summer Sunday afternoon, according to sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly.

"It is with great sorrow we report this young girl has passed away. Our deepest condolences to her parents and family. We will continue to support them through this difficult time," officials said in a post on the sheriff's office Twitter page.

The situation unfolded as deputies and paramedics responded to the private club at 707 Country Club Cir., off Castlewood Drive in unincorporated Pleasanton, around 2:25 p.m. Sunday on a report of an accidental near-drowning, according to Kelly.

Cai, a guest of a Castlewood member family, was playing in the pool but the situation turned dangerous "very quickly" when she became unresponsive under water, Kelly said. A lifeguard pulled the girl from the pool within seconds and began CPR and emergency first aid.

First responders then arrived, with paramedics taking over and transporting her to Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare hospital in Pleasanton, according to Kelly. She was then taken to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, where she remained on life support in critical condition since late Sunday.

Cai died just after midnight Wednesday, according to Kelly.

Castlewood general manager John Vest offered condolences on behalf of the club later Wednesday morning, saying, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. This is a horrible tragedy. We are cooperating with authorities and providing responses as requested. Counselors are available for members and club associates."

Grief support is also available at local schools for those affected by Cai's death. Pleasanton Unified School District officials confirmed the girl attended a local school, but they declined to identify which campus out of respect for the family's request for privacy.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic loss," PUSD Superintendent David Haglund said. "The loss of a child is incredibly difficult and we want to ensure that our families and students know that support is available to them. We will have grief counselors and other resources and supports available."

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25 people like this
a resident of Old Towne
on Sep 12, 2018 at 9:42 am

This is heart breaking news, my condolences to the family and friends. If there is any donation fund created in the child or family's name please post.

11 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 12, 2018 at 10:45 am

My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Rest in Paradise. ❤️RR

36 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 12, 2018 at 11:33 am

The Chron added that video showed the girl was not long underwater, and that the lifeguard did a good job of responding and was the one who was able to recover a pulse via CPR. They should not hang their head. Well done in the face of tragedy.

29 people like this
Posted by Danville Parent
a resident of Danville
on Sep 12, 2018 at 11:58 am

Very sad. There is no greater pain than the loss of a child.

With the video the news was swift and accurate about what happened. In this case we learned what happened the very next day.

In comparison to the drowning at SRV high school (May 8th). Even with video the school district has yet to disclose the fact that the drowning occurred during a PE class. It was only when the police report (July 5th 2 months later) came out did we learn that the evil rumors that were allowed to swirl were not accurate. Yet the video recorded the drowning and was reviewed the day the student died. Do school districts (SRVUSD) get to withhold information if it makes them look bad?

10 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Danville
on Sep 21, 2018 at 12:34 am

RIP little angel, may God provide you with all the comfort you deserve.

This was a very sad story that imo was preventable. One lifeguard watching a bunch of kids is an impossible task. I never understood that concept; my guess is management often times will roll the dice and put profit over safety. Parents see a lifeguard and it creates the illusion of safety when in reality there should be at a minimum one lifeguard for about every ten kids, depending on the ages of the kids and the experience of the lifeguards.

ABC news reported the video showed this poor little girl was under water for 1 minute and 17 seconds. That is an eternity if you already have an elevated heart rate causing you to breath hard, which is likely the case if you’re swimming/playing in a pool.

Try holding your breath while exercising. Maybe 20 seconds max if you’re in excellent cardio shape. Now imagine being under water and in a panic as this innocent little girl was. After 20 seconds underwater you will likely have held your breath for as long as humanly possible and will then be forced to take breaths causing your lungs to quickly fill with water and you drown.

I have personally seen two children horseplay in a 5-foot pool filled with kids and with a lifeguard present. While horseplaying, the less experienced kid began to panic and grabbed onto the older kid causing them to both go under water. Luckily a parent was nearby and immediately pulled both kids up and helped them out of the pool. The kids were under water for less than ten seconds. The lifeguard never even saw the horseplaying and didn’t see the kids going under water. The lifeguard only realized something was wrong because both kids were outside the pool and were excessively coughing as their parents comforted them.

The point is that unless your kid is at least of teenaged years and is a proven strong swimmer, I would not put my faith in one lifeguard trying to watch several kids in a busy pool. I don’t blame the lifeguards since they are mostly teenagers or young adults themselves who may be strong swimmers but may lack the experience or observation skills. Imo it is management that needs to have the proper safety budget to put out a proper ratio of lifeguards to kids. Maybe that should be a state law to force the issue and create the safest environment for our children.

6 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Danville
on Sep 24, 2018 at 9:57 am

Some places do the lifeguard requirement based on the square footage of the pool. Because even if you have a few kids in a large pool the entire pool needs to be monitored. In case of Castlewood using google can measure the pool size and see that they have two pools a small one at 1600 sq feet and a large one at 3080 sq feet. Found one requirement that required one life guard for every 2000 sq feet or 2.34 lifeguards so being safe would be 3. I have heard that they had 3 lifeguards but cannot find that for a fact. Not sure if they had kids in both pools or just one.

But don't get me started about the drowning at SRV high. The SRV high pool has an area of 8000 sq feet and they did not have a single life guard. The danger is the high schools continue to believe a PE teacher can act as a lifeguard. School districts are saving money by creating PE classes with 60 students. So high schools now have 60 students in a pool with no lifeguards. PE teachers are not required to be trained as lifeguards. Cases of PE teachers changing clothes before rescue attempts. Another case the PE teacher called security to attempt the rescue. So at this point each school district needs a death before they implement the same solution which other school districts implement after the death. Is it a dirty secret that the school districts do not what exposed that high school kids are drowning in 9th grade PE.

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