Saturday, May 17, 2008

A story from the Korean Herald about Michael White.

Mother cries foul after son`s sauna death

A mother from the United States is crying foul after her son drowned in a sauna complex for no apparent reason.

According to local police, 14-year-old Michael White was discovered in the cold pool of the sauna in Gyeongsan, near Daegu.

A staff member at the sauna complex saw him face down in the pool, but did nothing, assuming he was bathing, police and sauna management said.

When the employee saw him again later, he was still face down in the pool. Emergency services were then contacted.

Police say they are investigating, but they have no reason to believe a crime had been committed. There were no signs of obvious injury on the body, they said.

At the time, the mother and her female friends had separated from her son while they used the bathing areas. There were 15 other people in the bathroom at the time, according to police.

When Michael`s mother was notified, he was being treated and loaded into the ambulance. The hospital confirmed they declared him dead on arrival.

The mother, Stephannie White, says when she asked the ambulance crew why they had no oxygen or defibrillator's, they told her that workers at the sauna reported him as dead to the emergency services. She claims the staff did not contact her until after the ambulance arrived.

"The really heart wrenching thing is that staff didn't get us," said White. "We are both first responder trained and we could have saved him."

The manager of the sauna denies that the boy was called in dead, and says he tried to notify the mother through an announcement. According to the manager, the announcement was in Korean, but used the English word "dangerous" to try and locate people accompanying the boy.

"He was such a kind, caring and generous young man," White said of her son. "He had pulled I don`t know how many puppies off of the streets, he spent his own money getting them shots and housebreaking them and putting them up for adoption."

There is a law barring minors from entering sauna complexes unaccompanied. However, the management said there was nothing preventing minors from separating from their supervisors once inside.

A vigil was held outside the U.S. Embassy in Seoul yesterday morning, and another will be help outside the sauna complex tomorrow.

By paul Kerry


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