Cranston mom charged after toddler nearly drowns in swimming pool

West Bay

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Police say a two-year-old is recovering in the hospital after nearly drowning in a Cranston swimming pool on Monday afternoon.

The girl’s mother, Jacqueline Ciccone, 36, Cranston, has been charged with child neglect, according to Cranston Police Chief Col. Michael Winquist.

Officers responded to a Westcott Avenue home around 2 p.m. on Monday after the toddler was found face down in the backyard swimming pool. Police told 12 News the child climbed up a ladder and into the above-ground pool.

Winquist said Ciccone told officers she’d left the toddler under the supervision of her 11-year-old daughter, along with her three other siblings.

Ciccone said she was doing laundry in the basement and smoking marijuana when her daughter ran downstairs and told her she couldn’t find her sister, according to Winquist.

When Ciccone went to investigate, Winquist said she looked through a window and saw her daughter in the pool.

One of Ciccone’s neighbors, who’s a registered nurse, ran over to help. Winquist said the neighbor performed CPR on the child and was able to resuscitate her.

The toddler was rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital where she was initially sent to the Intensive Care Unit.

“This time of year, it is critical that children are never left unsupervised around any body of water, including neighborhood swimming pools,” he said. “If it weren’t for the swift and heroic action of a neighbor, we would likely be mourning the death of this child.”

Maj. Todd Patalano said the incident should serve as a stark reminder that parents can’t leave their children unsupervised.

“These things happen within seconds, as we know, and this child was in the pool anywhere, we estimate between three and four minutes, and that’s a long time,” Patalano said.

Ciccone was arrested and charged with one count of child neglect. She was released on personal recognizance Monday evening and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 5 for a bail review.

Ciccone’s other four children are now in the custody of their father.

The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families was notified, and a spokesperson for the agency confirmed they’re actively investigating the incident alongside police.

Winquist said the swimming pool is not fenced in as required, and city code inspectors would be taking a closer look at the home on Tuesday.

According to Cranston’s Code of Ordinances, a private swimming pool is “declared to be an accessory use in a residential district and shall conform to the appropriate side, front and rear yard requirements of the particular residential district in which it is located; provided, however, that any filter and pump shall be located not less than fifteen (15) feet from the side yard line.”

The following exceptions shall apply:

  1. Above ground pools which are up to and including fifteen (15) feet by twenty-five (25) feet rectangular, eighteen (18) feet diameter round or twelve (12) feet by twenty-four (24) feet oval, which are located on lots that are less than six thousand (6,000) square feet or that have less than sixty (60) feet of frontage, may have a minimum side yard setback of three feet and a minimum rear yard setback of five feet.

2. Below ground pools which are up to and including sixteen (16) feet by thirty-two (32) feet rectangular which are located on lots that are less than six thousand (6,000) square feet or that have less than sixty (60) feet of frontage may have a minimum three foot side yard setback and five foot rear setback.

According to the R.I. Department of Health’s swimming pool and spa regulations, there must be an “effective barrier surrounding the water area, as well as entrapment protection for suction outlets to reduce the potential for drowning of young children.”

The regulations note “the operational aspect of pool filtration and circulation systems were extensively changed to provide systems that would prevent such entrapment of children (small individuals) that had resulted in tragic deaths.”

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