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Anaheim Tot Drowns in Ice Chest

August 21, 1997|STEVE CARNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — An 11-month-old boy drowned Wednesday when he fell into an ice chest filled with water in his backyard, officials said.

Because of the heat, the family of Manuel Gutierrez had placed a large ice chest nearly filled with water in the backyard for the children to splash in, said Anaheim Police Lt. Pattie Wasielewski.

About 11:45 a.m., Manuel's mother, Alicia, was reading the children a story in the living room when she noticed Manuel had wandered off, Wasielewski said. She found him face down in the cooler, officials said.

Police officers and paramedics could not revive him.

Anaheim Fire Department spokeswoman Tabby Cato said young children are especially susceptible to drowning in buckets and other seemingly innocuous containers of water because the weight of their heads makes them top-heavy. They fall in, can't pull themselves out and drown, she said.

"It doesn't take much to do that. A couple of inches can cover the nose and the mouth," Cato said.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children younger than 5 in California, she said. And last year Orange County led the nation in child drownings, with 15 deaths and 20 near-deaths.

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