New safety measures have been put in place at a popular swimming pool in Auckland after a teenager was left paralysed in a freak accident.
Several changes have been made at the Auckland Council-owned Pt Erin Pool complex, in Herne Bay, including improved staff training, new signs and age restrictions in certain areas.
The changes come after Lech-Welensa Lo Tam, 15, broke his neck after entering one of the pools on a slide head first this year.
Three of his friends had been swimming in the pool and he did not realise that the water under the slide was just 1m deep.
The slide also had an age restriction of 5-10 years, under supervision of a parent or guardian.
The teen, of Glen Eden, injured his C3, 4, 5 vertebrae - the worst kind of spinal cord injury - and is now paralysed.
The council's leisure network services manager, Garth Dawson, said they reviewed health and safety measures after an internal investigation that followed Lech's accident.
He said there were safety signs at the pool when the accident happened, but the new signs are clearer about how to safely use the slide and now include pool depth and a more explicit restriction on the age of slide users. Staff were also trained to enforce the new guidelines.
"These types of accidents are always distressing for friends and family, members of the public and staff and [Community Leisure Management] made the decision to close Pt Erin Pools to recover. Immediately after Lech was injured, Worksafe and officials at the Auckland Council were told about it, Dawson said.
"Worksafe did not require any further information and did not [investigate]," he said.
"We have made ongoing contact with the family and have offered our support wherever possible."
Seven months on, Lech has now got some movement in his arms; although he has no feeling from his chest down.
His mother, Justine Lo Tam, said the family did not blame anyone for the accident and praised the lifeguards who helped their son.
"The lifeguards actually visited him at Middlemore Hospital." Lo Tam said her son continued to keep a positive attitude and had even mentioned wanting to go back to the poolsto personally thank those who had helped him that day.