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Meet a Miracle- Faith

Like many families- the Sternadel family escapes the blistering Texoma heat in their private pool and spa. A July weekend the family of seven enjoyed the cool amenity; the kids were playing while mom and Dad prepared dinner nearby.

Faith, a long, blond-haired girl, played in the hot tub.  Wanting to swim to the other side, she went underwater and began to make her way to the other side.  Suddenly, she felt her hair being pulled, forcefully by the spa filter.  For the next two, long minutes, Faith was trapped underwater and struggled to free herself from the grip of the intake filter.  As the water rushed into her nose and mouth, she fought to free herself by pulling on her hair with both hands.

“I really thought I was going to die,” Faith said.  “No one noticed I needed help, so I waived my arms, and when my sister, Farah came by, I tried pinching her to get her attention.”  Farah then screamed, “Ouch, Faith hurt me!”

Faith’s older brother, Koda, was also in the hot tub, but didn’t notice his sister’s struggle and believed her just to be playing.  When he realized she wasn’t coming up for air, he forcefully pulled her out of the water and carried her out to a patio chair. Faith was stone silent other than sounds of gargling water coming from her mouth. Moments later, her nose and mouth were bloody. Her Dad saw the blood then both Mom and Dad both rushed to their daughter’s aide.

Faith’s mom Dusty said, after realizing the severity of the situation, “I think I was in shock. I did not initially think much was wrong. Faith appeared to be fine, but Faith kept complaining that she felt heavy. I felt her arm; it was heavy and hard.  I decided to consult with a family member who is a Nurse Practitioner- they suggested we take Faith to the Emergency Room as soon as possible. So we did.”

Upon arriving at United Regional, the local Children’s Miracle Network hospital immediately Faith was wheeled to a room full of staff. Faith was scared. This is her first visit to the hospital since birth. “But they made me feel comfortable and talked me through everything,” said Faith. She stayed in the ER for a few hours to ensure her lungs were clear, and she is now home doing the things she loves- drawing and painting. Faith stresses that she wants everyone to know that hair should be tied back while swimming in a pool or hot tub, so others do not have experience the trauma, and near-death experience she did.

The family is thankful, grateful, and blessed to be able to share Faith’s 10th birthday with her today.







The statistics are sobering and enough to give every parent pause:

There were 98 cases reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of body entrapment in a pool or spa drain, including 15 confirmed deaths, between 1990 and 2007. The deaths were the result of drowning after the body, or a limb, was held against the drain by the suction of the circulation pump. The incidents occurred in both residential and public settings:

  • Twenty-two incidents occurred at a residential location, and 31 at a public facility. In 21 cases, the location was not specified;
  • Thirty-nine of the incidents occurred in spas, hot tubs, or whirlpools;
  • 31 incidents occurred in swimming pools and three occurred in a wading pool (one location was reported as ”unknown”). In one of the spa incidents, a 16-year-old girl became trapped on a 12″ by 12″ flat drain grate in a large public spa and died.
  • According to the CPSC, there were 43 incidents of hair entanglement, including 12 deaths, between January 1990 and August 2004. The incidents typically involve females who are underwater with their long hair near a suction outlet, when the water flow into the drain sweeps the hair into and around the cover, where it becomes tangled in the holes and protrusions of the cover, causing the victims’ heads to be held under water.  Most accidents with drain outlets involve people with hair that is shoulder length or longer.

CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign—the federal government’s drowning prevention program that exists through the Pool and Spa Safety Act— strongly recommends that children do not play or swim near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools. And caregivers should never allow their children to enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken, or missing drain cover.