Boy Drowns in East Hampton Pool

A day’s visit from Brooklyn ends in tragedy

An 11-year-old boy, Derek B. Smith of Brooklyn, was found at the bottom of a pool early Sunday evening at a house off Route 114 in East Hampton. A family friend with whom he was spending the day pulled him out and frantically called 911 while performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

East Hampton Town police said the boy, who had special needs, was visiting here for the day.

Chief Michael Sarlo said an officer arrived at the house three minutes after the call came in at 5:08 p.m., and took over C.P.R. A paid paramedic and East Hampton Village Ambulance Association members soon followed, as did three East Hampton Village police officers. The boy was taken to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Derek was fully clothed and did not know how to swim, Detective Sgt. Greg Schaefer said on Tuesday. The detective said he was apparently not mentally or physically disabled, but that he did attend a special-needs school in Brooklyn.

The family friend, whose name was not released, told police Derek was outside playing with a ball while she was inside on the phone. They were the only two people at the house at the time.

He was only out of sight for three or four minutes, she told the detective. “She began to look for him and she realized there was something at the bottom of the pool.”

“How he ended up there — whether he fell in accidentally — we are still investigating.” Detective Schaefer said police were told the boy was “aware and afraid of the water.”

The woman had asked Derek’s grandmother, who was his main caretaker, if she could bring him out for the day. “She thought it would be fun,” the detective said.

There were no signs of trauma on the body, and no foul play is suspected. Police are awaiting a report from the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office.

A town code enforcement officer later conducted an assessment of the property, which tax records indicate is owned by Elizabeth Bianco of New York City. A fence around the pool was present; that was not a contributing factor in the death, police said.

Tom Preiato, the town’s chief building inspector, was called to the house during the investigation. On Tuesday, he declined to discuss specifics of the property, citing an ongoing investigation.

New York State building code mandates that pools be completely enclosed with at least a four-foot fence or wall, which may include a house. All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall must be equipped with an alarm. All gates must be equipped with spring locks that open only from the inside and that are capable of being locked.

 


<