A six-year-old boy drowned in the small pond of the provincial sports and recreation domain De Nekker in Mechelen on Wednesday afternoon. An attempt was made to resuscitate the child but any help came too late. The Mechelen court is now investigating the correct circumstances of the incident.
A group of young people and their supervisors from Brussels came down to De Nekker in Mechelen on Wednesday for a day of water fun. However, things went wrong around noon. Those present suddenly saw a child lying on the bottom of the small pond. The victim was taken out of the water and the rescuers of the recreation area immediately started resuscitation. A MUG team also rushed to the scene to take over the resuscitation. The child was rushed to the University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA), but in the end all help turned out to be too late.
“Suddenly there was a lot of commotion in the small pond. We also saw the rescuers running to the pond in a panic. At first I thought there was a fight, but very quickly I saw that they were resuscitating a child. That is an image that I will not soon forget ”, says a woman who was present.
Immediately the small pond was cleared. De Nekker did decide not to evacuate the rest of the recreation area. Due to the corona measures, every visitor must register in advance and the number of people admitted is limited. All places were reserved on Wednesday.
The police set up a perimeter around the scene. In the course of the afternoon, the public prosecutor’s office, together with investigating judge Theo Byl, stepped down into the domain. “This is done to get a better view of the entire case and to be able to quickly carry out the necessary investigative actions,” said the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office.
One of the matters that will be investigated is whether everyone – both supervisors of the Brussels youths and rescuers – has performed their job properly or whether or not there is a possible shortcoming.
The provincial government, which manages De Nekker, reacts with shock to the incident. “I am very moved by this event. Nobody wants to experience losing a child. My heart is with the family, ”said authorized commissioner Jan De Haes (N-VA). He confirmed that there were four rescuers and an overseer on site.
The drowning of the six-year-old Brussels boy is not the first incident in De Nekker. In April 2011, a then 4-year-old boy from Antwerp drowned. He was out for a day with a group of young people and counselors from a youth institution. A few years later, two escorts were convicted because, according to the criminal court, they had failed to perform their duties and had not supervised enough. De Nekker and the rescuers were acquitted.
The incident is the second drowning in the region in a few days. Last Sunday, a 20-year-old Palestinian young man was killed while struggling in the Netekanaal in Lier.