“He was a bloody special, special kid. We loved him to death.”

These are the words of a heartbroken father, speaking to the public about the loss of his “beautiful boy” in a backyard drowning. 

Perth drowning
Joey’s dad Steven recently spoke to 9News about the loss of his son. Source: 9News

Earlier this week six-year-old Joey Vines vanished from his backyard in the Perth suburb of Booragoon. Joey was autistic and non-verbal. His family called the police as soon as they realised he was missing. 

‘He couldn’t yell for help’

90 minutes later, Joey was found unresponsive in a neighbour’s pool which backed onto his own backyard. The little boy had scaled two fences to get into the water. Tragically, Joey passed away from his injuries in hospital. 

Joey’s mum holds her son’s hand as she says goodbye. Source: 9News

Through heavy tears, Joey’s heartbroken father, Steven Vines recently told the media just how special and amazing Joey was. 

Joey, who has five siblings, was adored by his family and his death has left an enormous hole in everyone’s hearts.

He was a bloody special, special kid. He couldn’t talk but we knew how to communicate with him. He couldn’t yell for help because he was non-verbal.

We loved him to death. Everyone that was in his life, he melted their bloody hearts. He was a big part of our life. We’re not going to cope. We’re not going to cope.” 

In a video shared with 9News, it’s evident that Joey meant the absolute world to his dad.

Through his tears, he also shares an incredibly important message about pool safety: 

Everybody look at their bloody fences. I didn’t think he’d climb it but he did… keep an eye out for your kids.”

The family had only just moved into the property. Joey climbed over both the backyard fence and then a pool fence to get to the pool, something that was caught on CCTV.

Source: 9News

Steven also shares that Joey just started at a new school and was coming along in “leaps and bounds”. 

Our hearts break alongside Steven and his family as he comes to terms with this devastating loss.

Swimming pool safety 

Joey is the fourth child to die in a drowning tragedy in Western Australia, this year. Joey’s death acts as a stark reminder to keep pool safety front and centre. 

To stop young children from being able to squeeze themselves under or between gaps in a fence, or climb over a fence, pool fences must at a minimum: 

  • Be a minimum 1.2m high from the finished ground level.
  • Leave no gap from the bottom of the fence bigger than 10cm from the finished ground level.
  • Have no gaps of more than 10cm between any vertical bars in the fence.
  • If bars are horizontal climbable bars, they should be spaced at least 90cm apart.
  • No objects, external walls, house dwellings to be installed in a way that allows access over, under or through a pool fence, including garden furniture, window sills and retaining walls.

These backyard pool rules are designed to keep kids safe. But it is important to note that it’s not only permanent or portable pools that pose a drowning risk. Everyday household items such as buckets filled with water for the dog, shell pools or eskies with melted ice water after a party could all be potential drowning hazards if left unsupervised.

Take the time to double-check your state’s current backyard pool rules and check your fences!

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Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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