A four-year-old boy from Texas and his family were on vacation to Texas Dike Point during the Memorial Day weekend when “a wave from a distant ship knocked him over and his head went under,” his father, Francisco Delgado Jr. said.
According to a CNN report, the boy, Frankie, was rescued by a family friend but eventually died the next night after experiencing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and shoulder pain. “I never thought nothing of it,” Delgado said to CNN after his wife took Frankie to the doctor’s office that morning where they concluded he had the stomach bug.
Delgado said his son suddenly woke up from his sleep and “looked at me, and he just rolled his eyes back and took a deep breath. I was like ‘Frankie, what’s wrong,’ and I got up real quick, and I saw that he took a breath but never exhaled.” Frankie was then rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead after doctors found water in his lungs.
Doctors say Frankie died of “dry drowning” also known as secondary drowning however, an official cause of death is pending, according to the Harris County Coroner and Medical Examiner’s Office.
CNN reported that according to Dr. Juan Fitz, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, dry drowning occurs when a swimmer is on land and is the result of “water left in the lungs which can cause edema or swelling.”
“When the air passages in the lungs are filled with water, they are unable to exchange oxygen to and from the blood, causing blood oxygen levels to drop and the heart to slow and that’s where you have the cardiac arrest, because you’re not carrying enough oxygen,” he said.
Fitz also mentioned that death in the result of dry drowning is mostly common in young children and that “it is difficult to predict whether a child is going to be affected, unless they were obviously struggling in the water.”
According to Alison Osinski, a water safety expert and president of Aquatic Consulting Services, “symptoms typically appear one to 24 hours after the incident and can include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, lethargy, fever and an unusual mood change.”
Fitz suspected that Frankie’s vomiting was “caused by either irritation from the water or a bacterial infection.” Delgado wants to raise awareness about this condition so he can help other families avoid the type of pain he went through with his son.