Published Friday, July 21, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Girl catches hair in drain, drowns
Nicole Rodriguez’s brother cut her loose, but it was too late for
the Arvida Middle School student.
BY SABRINA WALTERS
A fish of a swimmer, 11-year-old Nicole Rodriguez couldn’t extract
herself when a pool drain sucked in her shoulder-length hair and held her fast for
several precious minutes.
"Her brother tried to pull her apart, but he couldn’t; he got
scissors, a knife, everything" said the child’s uncle, Gilbert
Nicole’s brother eventually cut her free, but not before the Arvida
Middle School student drowned Wednesday night in Kendall, in a neighbor’s
pool that converts to a hot tub.
"Even with the pump turned off, she [Nicole] wouldn’t have
been able to pull her hair off, because her hair got sucked in and
knotted around a plastic piece," said Miami-Dade Police spokesman
Juan DelCastillo. "Her heir got tangled in those suction
Off-duty Miami Police Officer Jorge Guerra, who was jogging, heard
screams from Nicole’s brother and hopped the fence. Guerra performed
CPR, but the girl later died at Baptist Hospital.
Her tragedy Wednesday was at least the third South Florida tragedy
involving pool drains since June 1999.
"We have had several calls this year about kids caught in
drains," said Eugene Jermain Jr., a spokesman for Miami-Dade Fire
Rescue. Jermain said his department does not keep statistics, but he
estimates that about two children a year die when their hair or bodies
get caught in filter drains.
South Florida has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of
pools and water spas. Drowning is the leading cause of death for
children in Florida.
"What happens when people get trapped in a pool is that their
body gets snagged in the drain, and the suction from the pump sucking
the water in the drain pulls their body in," said George Pellington,
an engineer at Vac-Alert Industries, a Fort Pierce manufacturer of pool
safety devices. His company also sells an Anti-Hair Snare filter.
"This kind of thing happens way too often,’ Pellington said.
Among the cases are at least two more in South Florida in the last 13
Lorenzo Peterson, 14, nearly drowned last month when his wrist, elbow
and shoulder got caught in a drain at the six-foot-deep end of a pool at
the Village Apartments, 1600 NE 126th St., in North Miami. The boy’s
parents have filed a lawsuit against the apartment complex for
In June 19991 Jeremy Belott, 7, from northern Broward nearly drowned
when he was trapped underwater in his family’s whirlpool.
Visitation for Nicole will be at 2 p.m. today at the Caballero Rivero
Woodlawn Funeral Home, 11655 SW 117th Ave. Services will be held at
10a.m. Saturday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 9500 SW 184th St.