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Investigation exposes pool hazards

By Michael Finney
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | 10:51 AM

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The stories we've heard are almost too incredible to be true, but they are. The suction of the drain in both pools and spas can be so powerful, children's hair and body parts are sucked into them -- leaving them underwater and entangled in a death trap.A joint 7 On Your Side and ABC News investigation exposes the hazards beneath a swimming pool near you. Bruce and Sue Maroney watched closely as their grandchildren swam in their backyard pool in the Yosemite Foothills. It was nearly 11 years ago today, when their son TJ died in a swimming pool mishap. He was swimming in a pool at the San Benito County Fairgrounds when his friends noticed he was in trouble.

"And then there was people that were jumping in when they realized something was going on. You know people that were just watching their kids were jumping in to try to save him," said Sue Maroney.

"And then there was people that were jumping in when they realized something was going on. You know people that were just watching their kids were jumping in to try to save him," said Sue Maroney.

"And they couldn't, they couldn't pull him out," said Bruce Maroney. "They couldn't pull him," said Sue Maroney. TJ's arm got sucked into a swimming pool drain, trapping him underwater. The grate of the drain TJ got sucked into had been left off while being repaired. "When August comes and his birthday comes, I just think about - he's not here anymore," said Sue Maroney.

TJ is one of at least 35 children who have died in similar accidents since 1984. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says another 100 children have been seriously injured. The number one cause of death in these accidents -- the hair gets sucked in by the 500 pound force of the drain.

Paul Pennington of Santa Rosa is with the Pool Safety Consortium. He helped demonstrate just how strong that force can be.

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