After tragedy, Richmond family has warning for parents

Posted at 6:52 PM, May 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-24 19:45:30-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- A Richmond family is opening up about a day that changed their lives forever.

It's been nearly a year since Theirno Sy went swimming in the pool at the apartment complex where he lived. Since that day he has remained hospitalized.

Family members said they were told the boy was held underwater by other children at the pool before someone spotted him at the bottom and pulled him out.

After that day, a long road to recovery began. In fact, Theirno spent months in a coma and on a ventilator.

"At the beginning, the first four or five months, it was hard," said the boy's father,  Abdarahmane Sy. "We didn't expect him to live that long."

When CBS 6 News senior reporter Wayne Covil checked in with Ty's family Friday, he  remained on a feeding tube. He can now sit in a chair with assistance, but doctors said it is unlikely that he will ever be able to leave the hospital.

Sy said that when his three daughters go to the pool now, they can only swim if he is there closely watching them at all times.

"To me, I would not let my kids go to swimming pool without me standing up and watching my kids," he said.

Swimming experts stress that it is imperative parents talk with their children about safety before heading to the pool or beach.

"Before you let them get in the water, just go over some very basic stuff about, like the no running around the pool and the diving and the appropriate areas and not getting in the water you can't touch in unless you are a very good swimmer," said Brad Flynn, a specialist with the aquatic program in Hopewell.

Additionally, Flynn said parents should make sure children understand that games like chicken fighting and holding your breath or others under the water will get them kicked out of the water.

Experts said stress that  it's too late for that conversation once children are in the pool.

"If a parent can say to a kid before they get there, hey, if I see you putting your hands on people, then we're going to not be at the pool anymore, then that might stop them from doing these activities," Flynn said.