The 7-year-old granddaughter of former secretary of state
James A. Baker III died when she became tapped in a whirlpool and
drowned in McLean, Fairfax County police said yesterday.
Virginia Graham Baker of McLean was playing with other children in a
friendís whirlpool on Alps Drive during a graduation party Saturday
when she accidentally got caught in the poolís drain. She was stuck
underwater and was unable to free herself police said.
A family member found her, and it took two adults to dislodge her;
authorities said. Several people who were at the party then tried to
revive the girl, who was taken by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital
and pronounced dead.
Virginia was the daughter of James A. Baker IV, who is the son of the
former cabinet secretary. The elder Baker was treasuary secretary and
chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan and secretary of state
under former President (George Bush. He also played a prominent role in
the Florida recount for the current president.
Baker and his son are partners in the law firm of Baker Botts, which has
ofices in Washington and in the elder Bakerís home town of
Reached at their McLean home yesterday, the Baker family declined to
comment. A representative for the elder Baker at his law firm said
family members were unreachable as they made funeral preparations
yesterday evening in Virginia
Safety experts said yesterday that whirlpool drains have caused
nearly two dozen deaths in the United States over the past 20 years.
According to the Bethesda-based Consumer Product Safety Commission,
the risks are largely from older-model drains that do not employ
suggested safety measures~ such as a secondary drain or a specialized
cover. In some cases, children who are trying to hold their breath
underwater get pulled in and canít get out
"Most deaths from hot tubs and spas are drowning deaths that
arenít related to entanglements or getting tapped," said Mark
Ross, a spokesman for the consumer agency, adding that voluntary safety
controls have cut down the number of dangerous drains. "But the
drains have great power, and there are cases where adults have been held
down and drowned because of them. Anybody with a spa or residential pool
needs to make sure they have them checked out to prevent these types of
accidents from happening."
According to Fairfax County police, the whirlpool was next to a
swimming pool area and was not a hot tub. Amy Lubas, a police
spokeswoman, said the whirlpool had been checked recently.