He was looking at his mobile phone while his six-year-old daughter, a non-swimmer, played in a swimming pool nearby.
Mr Zacharias Alexander Karamoy later looked up and saw, to his horror, his little girl motionless at the bottom of the deeper end.
The Indonesian national immediately jumped into the pool to rescue his child. But it was too late.
Neisha Sandra Karamoy, who had not been wearing a flotation device, suffered brain death and died in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) two days later.
The incident happened at the Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy Hotel at East Coast Road. Following an inquiry, State Coroner Marvin Bay found that her death was a tragic misadventure yesterday.
Because drowning can occur swiftly and silently, he stressed that adults should not make use of mobile devices while supervising children.
Always supervise kids
Coroner Bay also said that young children should use personal flotation devices when they enter bodies of water.
He added: “Nevertheless, it is important to remember these buoyancy aids, however helpful they may appear, are only aids and cannot drown-proof a child.
“They certainly do not replace close adult supervision in water of all depths.”
Mr Karamoy, his wife, Madam Ni Ketut Sawitri, and their two children, Neisha and her seven-year-old brother, had arrived in Singapore for a holiday on April 3.
At around 10am the next day, Mr Karamoy decided to take the children to the pool while Madam Ni attended a course at the SIA training centre.
Coroner Bay said: “Mr Karamoy sat at the side of the pool while the siblings played in the pool.
“Mr Karamoy was browsing his mobile phone, and from time to time, he would check on them.”
At the poolside, Neisha made a new friend, a five-year-old Singaporean girl, identified in court papers only as “Miss A”.
The two girls were playing in the shallow part of the pool, which was 80cm deep, when Neisha wanted to go to the deeper side. That part of the pool was 1.2m deep while Neisha was only 1.15m tall.
When they reached there, Miss A panicked after she realised she could not touch the bottom.
Coroner Bay said: “She started to wave her hands vigorously and tried to get attention. (Neisha) was in front of her and was also seen struggling.”
An unknown woman managed to rescue Miss A and took her back to the shallow side where the steps to the pool were.
The little girl’s mother, who was nearby, rushed forward to console her daughter before the pair returned to their hotel room.
At around 10.30am, Mr Karamoy looked up from his mobile phone and noticed that only his son was at the shallow end.
He then spotted his daughter motionless at the bottom of the pool and immediately jumped into the water to pull her out.
Hotel staff performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Neisha and an ambulance arrived at around 10.45am to take her to KKH.
A CT scan later revealed she had suffered severe brain damage. Brainstem testing also showed that she had suffered brain death.
After a family conference with her doctor, Mr Karamoy made the painful decision to withdraw his daughter’s life support at around 1.30pm on April 6.
Coroner Bay said: “Mr Zacharias Karamoy was candid in stating that he did not pay enough attention to (Neisha) while she was playing in the pool.
“Children should be accompanied by a supervising adult, who must know how to swim and ideally provide ‘touch supervision’ – that is to say, to be close enough to reach the child at all times.”
Next page: Other recent cases of kids drowning