A 7-year-old boy who fell into several feet of filthy water in an unattended swimming pool outside a St. Paul apartment complex last month died Thursday morning, a family representative said.
Sher Kpor died at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, according to Peter T. Vogt, senior pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Maplewood. The boy “stayed on life support and never regained consciousness” from the time he arrived at the hospital, Vogt said.
Through the pastor, family members said in a statement, “We are so grateful to the community for the support and concern demonstrated for Sher. As you can imagine, this is a very hard time for all of us as a family.”
On May 25 at the Princeton Place complex at 461 Maryland Av. E., Sher and his 10-year-old brother got past a locked fence and fell into the pool that was filled with murky runoff water. Recent rain had filled the pool with about 6 feet in its deep end. St. Paul firefighters rescued the boys, and both were hospitalized. The brother, Ma Kpaw, recovered and “seems to be doing fine” since he left the hospital, Vogt said.
Three days later, city officials declared the pool a public nuisance and ordered the property owner to repair a fence and gate to prohibit entry into the pool area, remove debris, clear drains and prevent the buildup of standing water.
Samir Abumayyaleh went further. He had the pool removed. “Something needed to be done,” he said a week after the boys fell in.
Abumayyaleh, 44, of Roseville, said he bought the property about a year and a half ago, and it was obvious at the time that the pool had long been unattended.
He said he secured the area by keeping the gate locked at all times. The pool was not covered. Abumayyaleh said he did not know that it had to be.
Residents said Sher climbed or crawled through the fence, either to retrieve a ball or take one from the pool. When he began struggling for help, they said, Ma climbed over the fence after him. But Ma also got into trouble in the water, Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said.
The complex, made up of 33 apartments at Maryland Avenue E. and Arundel Street, according to city records, is largely populated with members of the Karen community, immigrants who fled religious and ethnic persecution in Myanmar.
A fund has been established by the Frost Lake Magnet School, which Sher attended, to help cover funeral expenses. Contributions can be made at www.youcaring.com.