Attempts to resuscitate toddler after paddling pool incident heard at inquest

Coroner records open verdict on 22-month-old boy found unresponsive in less than 10cm of water

Harrowing accounts of a family’s unsuccessful efforts to resuscitate a 22-month-old child after an incident in a paddling pool were heard at an inquest on Thursday.

Dublin City Coroner Aisling Gannon SC returned an open verdict into the death of Dáithí O’Grady who was found unresponsive in less than 10cm of water in the pool at the rear of his home in Tulsk, Co Roscommon, in June 2021.

The toddler was airlifted to Galway University Hospital before being transferred to the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin where he was put on life support. However, he was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage and died three days later.

In a series of statements read out at the Coroner’s Court, the child’s family, gardaí and paramedics gave evidence of attempts to resuscitate the toddler.


The toddler’s mother, Hayley O’Grady said she had been boiling a kettle in the kitchen of the family home on the morning of June 7th, 2021, while watching her son through the window. “I could see Dáithí playing with his tractor,” she said.

Her two older children were next door, in their grandfather Gabriel O’Grady’s house.

Ms O’Grady said her husband, Richard O’Grady, had been on a phone call at the front of the house and joined her in the kitchen before going out to the garden to see his son.

In his statement, Richard O’Grady said he finished his phone call and stepped into the kitchen at about 11am just as his wife was making tea. He went outside looking for Dáithí and saw him lying face-down in the paddling pool. He immediately started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a bid to resuscitate him.

Gabriel O’Grady said he was minding two of his grandchildren when he heard Hayley screaming. He said he saw Dáithí lying on his back on the ground while Richard administered emergency aid. He said Richard was clearly upset and he took over resuscitation efforts.

Garda Siobhán Clancy of Castlerea Garda station said when she arrived at the scene with a defibrillator, she found Richard O’Grady carrying out CPR on the child with a phone beside him on the ground. Garda Shane Riddell told the court the defibrillator machine advised not to shock the child.

Sgt Deirdre Conlon said the child’s clothes were wet and his eyes were open but he appeared non-responsive. She said the family were very distressed and Hayley O’Grady was “distraught and overcome with emotion”.

In medical evidence, Dr Caitríona Fahey said she had seen Dáithí on routine occasions and he had all his inoculations. He was “a very well-cared-for little boy”, she said.

Dr Aisling Walsh, a consultant at Temple Street hospital, said Dáithí's lack of oxygen had caused severe brain damage “of an irreversible nature” and he suffered a cardiac arrest at 8.15pm on June 10th. He was pronounced dead at 8.18pm.

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Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist