Girl Disembowled by Pool Drain?

This story, per Snopes, is a true incident appearing in the MN news. Here are two links to an unbelieveable story of a 6 yr old girl allegedly having her small intesting sucked out of her by uncovered drain pulling an estimated 300psi of pressure.

Yet, how did she manage to get away? How did she manage not to bleed to death and/or drown? Is there something fishy in the father’s story?

They claim it is a hidden danger, but even a grated drain cover will not help one avoid being sucked to the pool floor at 300psi! If this is all true, could the pool filtration system have been left in maintenance mode (with pumps running at max), or something?

What additional facts do the SDopers have on this? Any links to similar experiences? (Other than well-known cases of long hair (esp women’s) being sucked into a hot tub’s intake leading to injury or death?)

  • Jinx

Tangent… Was this the case that John Edwards took and won, and the family toured around with him on the campaign trail? I can’t find the details, but this has some info.

I remember reading about John Edwards (the former vice presidential / presidential candidate) handling a nearly identical case where they were suing the pool manufacturer (or something along those lines), and reading that it had happened to several children before his client.

And there’s always the Chuck Pahlaniuk story Guts, even though it’s not exactly scientifically accurate.

Unfortunately it was a true story and happened here last summer.
Even sadder was the girl passed away about a week ago.

story here

Uh, that cite is from a “lawyers are bad” site and has a clear anti-Edwards bias. The Wikipedia article on Valerie Lakey has some further information. The Wikipedia page on Abigail Taylor (the case referred to in the OP) says that 15 such incidents occurred in the United States between 1980 and 1996…

A similar incident was mentioned in one of my building-code classes. One result was to require pools to have two widely-separated drains, so that a person could not block one and come to harm.

Just weak searching skills combined with wanting to make the point first! I voted for him in the primaries :slight_smile:

Unfortunately you see cases of this type every year or where their hair is sucked in and they drown. Most of the time now it’s a maintenance problem and not a design flaw.

Just last night on ‘World’s Most Amazing Videos’ they showed the rescue of a man being sucked down a drain - he’d unblocked it and the water just pulled him in. Fortunately he grabbed on to a colleague.

A friend of my sister was killed in a similar matter. He wasn’t disemboweled, but he was sucked onto the drain with enough force that he wasn’t able to free himself and drowned. (This was at the bottom of a 10-12’ pool, so the water pressure was fairly significant.)

In poking around about this I found out that former Secretary of State James Baker’s granddaughter drowned when she became entraped in a pool drain. At least according to that article, a pool drain can create 500 pounds of pressure.

The girl who died-since she did not drown, I assume the depth of the water was less than 3 feet or so (if she was sitting down, her head was above the surface). So, the water pressure at the bottom of the pool was probably about 0.1 of atmospheric pressure-so how did this happen?-was there no screen over the drain? How was the filter running if someone had removed the drain screen?

From what I have read the problem occurs if the screen or covering of the drain is removed or broken.

For example, my pool has a 3 inch PVC line from the bottom of the deep end. This is referred to as the Main drain. The drain has a cap on it like a mushroom. Unless you wrap your arms around it, it’s almost impossible to feel the suction.

Last year I needed to do some maintenance and removed the cover. Let me tell you an open 3 inch hole has some enormous sucking power!! I can see that a small child or a person with long hair could be in trouble if they got too close while the pump was running.

I seem to recall an episode of CSI that had an adult body caught in the drain. He had been killed topside but was tossed in the water and was being held down by the suction of the broken drain.

Hope this helps.

One seeming nitpick. The drain doesn’t suck. The water above the drain pushes.

I know this seems like a meaningless semantic quibble, but it makes it a bit easier to visualize the physics involved.

Exactly my point: is the water pressure at the bottom of a 2-3 foot deep pool enough to do this?

No idea. How much does a circular column of water 3 inches across and 2-3 feet high weigh? I’m pretty sure it’s more force than I’d want applied to my bunghole without permission.

I’m pretty sure it does suck. That’s what the pump is for, right?

Yeah, it sucks. My skimmers do as well, and if I turn off the pump, both the skimmers and the main drains stop doing their jobs.

As noted above, pools today should be built with multiple “main” drains. On my pool, while I can individually control the flow to the skimmers, I can’t do so with the main drains, as they are joined together into a single pipe shortly after their exit from the bottom of the pool.

Most pools can control the ratio between the skimmers and the main drain as to how much water flows into the pump from them, so if the skimmers were turned off completely, and if there was a single main-drain, I can see it having a pretty strong pull.

I’m not sure about this particular case, but isn’t it also possible that she was just rescued quickly enough to avoid drowning, but not quickly enough to avoid having large portions of her intestines sucked out?