Chandler mother Stephanie Aragon saw the impact of drowning during her years working in the emergency room and knew she would need a gated fence around her pool when her daughter was born.
She had lived in the home for eight years. Her 10-year-old daughter, Scierra, and 14-yearold son, David, are good swimmers, but she grew concerned about her infant, Breanna, now 4 months old.
Her sister’s 17-month-old daughter fell into a back yard pool in January of last year when she and her husband had the back door and pool fence open during remodeling.
Andrea Schupe, mother of the now 2-1/2 year-old girl, said she has shown no side effects from the near-drowning and calls her survival a miracle.
Aragon, who went back to work in late March after her daughter’s birth in late January, decided she would have to save money to buy a pool fence, which can often cost as much as a mortgage payment. And, her husband, Operations Specialist Bryan Aragon, is overseas with the U.S. Navy.
Schupe understood the need for a fence and entered her sister into the Fulton Homes Fence Patrol contest, which, through a combined effort with Fulton Homes, KMLE (107.9 FM) and Ironman Pool Fence, awards 12 fences during the summer.
A committee selected winners based on who needs a fence the most.
There are hundreds of entries each week, said Alexis Janson, KMLE account manager.
The Aragon family received the fifth pool fence. On May 17, crews arrived and erected the wrought iron barrier.
“I feel a little bit better having the gate,” Aragon said. “I feel like she’s going to be safer.”
Six children under the age of 12 have drowned in the Valley as of May 21 this year. Five of those deaths were in Mesa. There’s no state law requiring residential pool fences.
Doug Fulton, president of Fulton Homes, a Tempe-based home building company, said fences aren’t a stop gap to drowning but provide a barrier and are part of a multi-prong approach.
Children must be taught to swim, and adults need to learn CPR, Fulton said.
The sisters said they understand the 5-foot tall fence is just a barrier.
On Jan. 29, 2006, Andrea’s then 17-month-old daughter, Alyssa, slipped by her and her husband, Tim Schupe, while they were in the midst of kitchen remodeling. The door and gate to the pool fence were open so they could carry out old carpet.
Alyssa disappeared, and Tim Schupe found her in the pool, dove in and carried her out. Her eyes were open, but she was blue. He began performing CPR.
Andrea Schupe dialed 911, then did chest compressions. Emergency personnel arrived and took the baby to the hospital.
The first Fence Patrol contest fence went up April 20 in Phoenix. Since then fences have been put up in the West Valley, Gilbert and on Thursday one will be installed in east Mesa.
Make a nomination
To nominate someone for the Fulton Homes Fence Patrol, go to www.fultonhomes.com and click on the Fulton Foundation link, where there is more information on the program under the water safety link, or visit www.kmle108.com and click on Fulton Homes Fence Patrol.