Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 14:41 UK

Teenage boy sucked into pool pump

Nathan and Rhys Clark Griffiths
Nathan (L) and his brother were due to fly to the Isle of Man on Wednesday

A 14-year-old schoolboy from the Isle of Man has died while on holiday in Thailand after being sucked into a swimming pool pumping system.

It is thought Nathan Clark Griffiths opened a vent at the bottom of the pool in an attempt to retrieve his goggles.

The boy was at a water park in Pattaya, east of Bangkok, with his family.

His mother Marion Griffiths criticised a delay in the rescue attempt caused by a lifeguard's refusal to believe the vent had been opened.

Thai police are investigating how Nathan, who had been in the pool with his brother Rhys, 15, was able to lift the vent, which should have been locked.

Language barrier

The incident happened on Friday at a water park in the resort, which is 85 miles (137km) from Bangkok.

Ms Griffiths said: "I just can't believe that the lifeguard did not act quicker. I'm numb now but anger will set in.

"The boys had been playing in the pool, they had one pair of goggles between them. Rhys said Nathan went under the water, he could see his long black shorts and then next minute he was gone. He knew something was seriously wrong.

"Rhys panicked and jumped out of the pool and ran over to the lifeguard but he couldn't understand him and didn't believe the grille had opened."

Nathan was also with his father Jimmy Clark, 48, his stepmother Kat and her son Kevin, 8, who all live together in Thailand.

He was trapped for far too long
Marion Griffths, Nathan's mother

"His stepbrother Kevin translated but the lifeguard told him he was lying because he said the vent was locked and so impossible for Nathan to have got through it.

"It was only when they got Jimmy, my ex-husband, that the lifeguard took them seriously but by then Nathan had been under the water a long time."

He was sucked into a pipe in the water pumping system and was found in the pool's engine room 20 minutes later.

Ms Griffiths added: "Jimmy got him out and tried to give him mouth-to-mouth.

"Jimmy said as soon as he saw Nathan come out of that pipe he knew he was gone, he was trapped for far too long."

Ms Griffiths, 40, lives with Nathan's 10-year-old sister Naomi in Douglas in the Isle of Man.

Nathan and his brother had been due to fly back to the island on Wednesday to spend the summer with their mother and sister.

A Thai police commander said Nathan was swimming with his brother in a whirlpool area.


Lifeguard Damrongsak Songmaleung described how staff got involved

BBC sources in Bangkok said the swimming pool was less than 1m deep.

"We are all heartbroken," added his mother.

Nathan's family have criticised lifeguards at the pool for refusing to take their pleas for help seriously or carry out a search of the pumping system.

The water park has now reportedly offered the family compensation.

As Nathan's body was lying on the ground Thai paparazzi took photographs of him which prompted his father to hit out, striking one camera with a spanner.

Some images have since appeared on Thai news channels.

Ms Griffiths added: "It's horrific for people to treat my son's death in such a way. I was sitting here in the Isle of Man and I am seeing pictures on Thai television of my son lying in that pump room with his little hands on his chest."

Mr Clark was fined £240 by Thai police over the incident.

The Foreign Office said: "Our consular people in Thailand are giving assistance at this tragic time for the family."

The Clark family had been due to move to India where Nathan's father Jim had been posted for work.

Nathan was a pupil at Ramsey Grammar School until he moved to Thailand in April 2008, said a spokesman for the Isle of Man Government's department of education.

Nathan also attended Ballacloan Primary School and then Scoill Vallajeelt School.

Ian Walmsley, former head teacher of Scoill Vallajeelt, said he remembered the teenager with fondness and was very saddened by the news.

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