DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A boy who drowned in a wave pool at Daytona Lagoon was likely underwater for four or five minutes before he was pulled out, according to records from Daytona Beach Fire Rescue.
Lifeguards and bystanders were performing CPR on 5-year-old Kaiden Lawson when firefighters arrived shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday. He was unresponsive and had no pulse when first responders took over life-saving measures.
A witness said the Lawson, who is from Nassau County, was underwater for four or five minutes, but that time was approximate.
A man who was watching over Lawson and his 9-year-old brother said the two boys were playing in waist-deep water when the waves began, according to the Daytona Beach Police Department. The man looked away for a few seconds to attend to his youngest son then when he returned his gaze, he no longer saw Lawson in the water.
The man assumed Lawson went to the playground area so he grabbed the 9-year-old boy and the other child and walked that way, but he was unable to find Lawson. As he walked back to the wave pool, he saw a man carrying Lawson out of the water.
That man told police that he was walking around the wave pool when he noticed Lawson face down in the water with his hands extended in front of him. The man jumped into the water and flagged down a lifeguard, together they pulled Lawson out of the water.
"Automatically, I knew exactly what was going on," said Jennifer De La Cruz.
De La Cruz told News 6 she was one of several people who immediately started performing CPR on Lawson.
"Probably 30 seconds of me doing chest compressions, this gentleman jumps in and says, 'I’m a doctor.' He was there visiting with his family, as well," she said. "He starts doing chest compressions and we all just start helping."
Records show the boy was given IV fluids and intubated as he rode to Halifax Health Medical Center with first responders, who continued CPR. He never regained his pulse.
"Every person in the perimeter of the area was crying," said De La Cruz. "Everyone felt for that family. I don’t think any of us have ever witnessed anything like that."
Tyler Currie, general manager of Daytona Lagoon, said the park will conduct an investigation into what happened.
"Unfortunately, he did not have a life jacket on," Currie said. "We require smaller children (to wear one) and he was right around the area where he wasn't required."
It's unclear if the waves were running when the boy drowned.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family right now,” Currie said. “This is a tragedy that leaves us all with heavy hearts.”
A GoFundMe page has been created to help cover Lawson's funeral expenses.