By TRAVIS RUIZ
• Guymon Daily Herald
It’s the tragic story of a 2-year-old Guymon boy who lost his life Sunday while at Liberal’s water park, and his family wanted to tell their side of the story.
“We went to the water park just to have fun,” said Marissa Ramirez, 23-year-old sister of Giovanni Sebastian Ramirez.
Little did they know, the rest of their lives would forever be changed that day. Their 2-year-old son, brother and uncle, Giovanni, drowned at closing time.
“We got out of the pool and went to where we were sitting down,” Marissa explained in an exclusive interview with The Guymon Daily Herald. “My little brother (Giovanni) was right by my dad.”
It was approximately 6:45 p.m., 15 minutes before the pool closed. The Ramirez family said the lifeguards blew their whistles and were getting people to get out since the pool was soon closing.
“Then he disappeared,” Marissa added.
“He was right there with me,” Giovanni’s father,” Daniel said. “I looked down and he was gone.”
The family explained that as soon as they noticed that Giovanni was missing, they began to search for him. They searched for what they believe was just a few minutes.
That’s when his dad, Daniel, spotted him. Giovanni was floating. Daniel said Giovanni was face up in three feet of water.
“I jumped in the water to get my son,” Daniel said. “I got my son out of the water.”
According to Daniel, he pulled Giovanni out of the water to safety and began to perform CPR.
“I tried to rescue my son,” Daniel said.
The family said a family friend who they worked with came over and also tried to help. Giovanni had a pulse and began to choke and spit up water. Their attempts at CPR were not successful.
“At that moment, there was no lifeguard,” Daniel explained.
Lifeguards then came to the immediate scene and took over CPR.
The family said there were a few lifeguards on the other side of the pool, but they did not notice the incident occurring. There was a lifeguard station very close to where the accident happened, but no one was there, the family said.
Giovanni was transported to Southwest Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The Ramirez family said hospital officials told them that Giovanni had been under water for five minutes.
“Where were they (lifeguards) during that five minutes,” Daniel questioned. “I can’t believe it.”
Giovanni, just 2-and-a-half-years-old, was afraid of the water, his family claimed.
“He wouldn’t go near it,” Marissa said. “He was scared of water.”
“We don’t know what happened,” Daniel said.
The Guymon Daily Herald has attempted to set up an interview with the pool manager, but requests were denied. The city manager has also declined to comment any further on the matter. The Guymon Daily Herald has requested records from the City of Liberal for specific water park policies, lifeguard time cards and visitor counts.
“I do know that they were, at the time, fully staffed,” said Liberal Mayor Tim Long. “In fact, they had more lifeguards than required. On the weekends, they try to ramp up the staff to 12 guards.
“It is a very unfortunate incident,” Long added. “We do our best to investigate and make sure there is nothing we can possibly do to make it better and make sure it never happens again.”
Giovanni Sebastian Ramirez was born Dec. 31, 2007, in Brownsville, Texas. His family, including his father Daniel; mother, Leticia; and 4-year-old sister moved to Guymon just a week before the tragic accident. They moved to Guymon to “start over” and were living with their older daughter, Leticia Ramirez, and husband, Gabriel Morales.
The accident remains under investigation, according to the mayor. He said he had a meeting with the chief of police on Tuesday morning, and the department was still conducting interviews.
Preliminary autopsy results show accidental drowning the cause of Giovanni’s death.