WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A mother who lost her 5-year-old daughter and 17-year-old sister-in-law in a tragic drowning at a neighborhood pool is speaking out.
Blanca Morales said the girls did not know how to swim and she never imagined they would go to the swimming pool without her permission. Morales said when she left for work last Tuesday, she told them to stay in the house.
"She hugged me and told me I was the best mom in the world and that I had bought her everything she wanted. She gave me a kiss and said I love you mom," said Morales of what would be the last time she saw her daughter.
Morales' sister-in-law had just arrived from Guatemala a week before. She later got a call that the girls had drowned in the pool and went to the hospital.
"I felt something inside me that wasn't right," said Morales.
Morales said her 9-year-old daughter tried to help them, but says she didn't see a life saving ring. The property manager of Casa del Monte mobile home community said both pools have life saving rings. Florida Health Department inspections for two pools in the community this year don't show any violations for not having a life saving ring, but there was a violation in August that closed the pool down for having an issue with signage.
The property manager said they have signs that say "Swim At Your Own Risk,"' though none are in Spanish.
"It's up to the discretion of the pool operator to decide on if multiple languages are needed, but English has to be there," said Alexander Shaw, director of communications for the Palm Beach County Health Department.
All public pools are required to have the life saving ring and hook pole visible and accessible.
The community does have rules for children to be supervised while at the pool. This is a good time to have a discussion with your family about visibly locating any life saving equipment any time you're in a pool area in the event of an emergency.