Boy, 5, recovers after nearly drowning at DCR pool in Lowell; lifeguards credited with rescue

LOWELL—One day after his son nearly drowned at a state-run pool, the father of 5-year-old Nay Blut Aung said the boy is recovering from the incident that stunned and frightened the family, who just moved here from Myanmar in the past year.

Speaking with the help of an interpreter in their sparsely decorated apartment not far from the pool, Zaw Aung said his son remains hospitalized and is being watched over by his mother, Hel Pho.

“He’s OK now, doing better,” Aung said.

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Aung said Nay and his two sisters, ages 11 and 10, went to the Raymond Lord Memorial Pool Thursday with an adult friend. The sisters aren’t sure what happened, but said Nay was playing near a rope separating the shallow and deep ends.

Aung, in an interview, was asked if he will allow his children to return to the Lord pool.

“Never,’’ he said—then added, “maybe they [will] learn to swim and then they can go to the low part.”

But the older sister, Phwe Aung, said she won’t return to the pool.

“I’m too scared to go,’’ she said.

About 100 children were in the pool Thursday, according to the two 19-year-old lifeguards who came to the boy’s rescue. Joseph Ford and Noelia Aquino each have four years experience.

Ford said he was scanning the pool’s shallow area, when he noticed a boy struggling near the ropes separating it from the deep area. Then the boy started sinking. Ford blew his whistle and jumped from his lookout perch into the water, pulling the child up.

Aquino also jumped in, after telling bystanders to call 911.

They laid the boy on the deck, and Aquino started CPR, using a breathing mask. A woman who identified herself as a nurse offered assistance. “She helped me with the breaths, and I gave compressions,” Aquino said.

The nurse, who was at the pool with her daughter, left soon after the boy started breathing and has not been identified. “I’m really thrilled that it worked out the way it did, said Ford. “It feels good, but again, it’s just our job in the end.”

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