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Heart Problems Blamed in Drowning of Woman, Child

September 06, 1996|MACK REED | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SIMI VALLEY — The flutter of a grandmother's ailing heart probably led to the drowning death of the woman and her 21-month-old grandson in their backyard pool, the Ventura County coroner's office ruled Thursday.

Anahit Dolmaian had a history of heart problems, said Simi Valley Police Lt. Tony Harper.

"The coroner's opinion is [that] she suffered a heart arrhythmia, which caused her to fall and push the child into the pool" in the Wednesday afternoon accident, Harper said.

Dolmaian, 68, probably collapsed forward, with her face and upper body underwater, Harper said. And Daniel Dolmaian--still strapped in his stroller--sank to the bottom.

The grandmother and grandson drowned, the coroner ruled.

Larssa Dolmaian came home just before 5:30 p.m. to find her son and his grandmother lying still in the pool and shrieked for help, Harper said.

Bob Stumpf, a neighbor, said he had been out skating with his own boys moments earlier, and said hello to Larssa Dolmaian and her other son, Johnny, as they arrived home.

When he heard the woman's screams a few minutes later, he ran to the block wall between their yards and jumped into the Dolmaians' backyard.

There, he saw Anahit Dolmaian lying face down in the pool, her left arm on the pavement.

"When I first saw them, I don't know why, but I knew they were dead," said Stumpf. "It was not like she had fallen. There was no blood and no bruises. . . . It was very quiet. The water was so quiet."

Stumpf said he tried to pull the woman's body out of the water while her daughter ran inside to call 911.

Meanwhile, neighbor Edward Lessner climbed over the back wall to help. He and Stumpf saw Daniel still strapped into his stroller, and jumped into the pool.

They pulled out the boy's body, still in the stroller, and set it on the pavement, Stumpf said.

As they emerged from the water, police and firefighters arrived and began trying to revive Anahit Dolmaian. She and Daniel were rushed to Simi Valley Hospital, police said, but were declared dead soon thereafter.

Police still do not know how long the two had been in the pool, or whether Dolmaian could swim.

The Dolmaian family "is totally devastated by this. We have no other comment at this time," said a relative who declined to give her name.

The Dolmaians are a friendly family, neighbors said Thursday, but they have kept mostly to themselves since moving from New York to Simi Valley five years ago.

Anahit Dolmaian, who is of Armenian descent, sometimes worried about getting along and making friends in Simi Valley because her English was not very strong, said neighbor Willi Michielsen.

But Michielsen described Anahit Dolmaian as "a doting grandmother" who often played on the front lawn with Daniel and his older brother. "She would always blow kisses to all the kids on the street," Michielsen said.

Michielsen said she sometimes went along when Dolmaian brought fresh dishes of Armenian food to an elderly shut-in who lives on their block.

"It's so sad," Michielsen said of the deaths. "It's such a tragedy."

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