3-Year-Old Drowns in Hot Tub During Birthday Party (VIDEO)

Ellison SusmanShe was wearing a life jacket. I think that's what makes the devastating drowning of 3-year-old Ellison Susman even more tragic.

The toddler was at a birthday party this past weekend with her family at an apartment complex. There were about 60 people there, and because there was a pool, Susman was outfitted with a life jacket. 

But it wasn't enough.

Somehow, while her mom was breastfeeding the girl's sibling and the other party goers weren't looking, Ellison was able to slip off her life vest and got in the hot tub.

It was 15 minutes after it was noticed that she was missing that she was found -- at the bottom of the hot tub, unconscious. Her life jacket was lying there on the pool deck. Paramedics arrived and tried to resuscitate her, but she died two days later in the hospital. Now her family must try to go on with their lives, and they want to warn others not to trust life jackets and other devices.

Her dad Ernie Susman told KTLA: "Don't trust these life preservers. Don't take your eye off your child one second. Don't trust your neighbors thinking they're gonna keep an eye on your child."

Devastating, but such a powerful reminder that we shouldn't trust toddlers, or kids who don't know how to swim, near any water period. All summer I've been reading stories almost daily of children who drown or nearly do so in all sorts of bodies of water. In Minnesota last week, a 1-year-old boy drowned in an inflatable pool. In Massachusetts a 2-year-old girl wandered into a neighbor's yard and drowned in their pool. It happens in buckets and in bathtubs, and anywhere water can be found.

It is incomprehensible that one minute these sweet children are running around playing, and the next they are gone forever. So think of them. Think of them and remember that children and water are a dangerous mix, and you can never be too cautious.

Do you trust life jackets to keep your children safe?


a mom's life, in the news, safety

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onefo... onefootcutiepie

This is horribly sad. I did think that it was common knowledge that you have to supervise kids aroudn the water even WITH a vest on, though......

Joeli... JoeliePoelieMom

My 3 year old knows how to swim.  He can swim to the side and climb out. It's all part of what he learned in swimming lessons.  It was very important to me that he takes them, since we just moved into a house with a pool.  We also have an unclimbable safety fence all around the pool, as well as doorknob covers on every exterior door.  In spite of all of this, I never, ever, ever take my eyes off of him in the pool.  It's important to not trust that your child will be safe around water.  A bump to the head, an overly tired child, anything can happen.  It's not worth the lifetime of regret these parents will be feeling.  I feel for their loss, as I'm sure if they thought it was a possibility that she would drown, they wouldn't have taken her safety for granted.  I heard a great tip once that at a pool party (where it is so easy for a drowning child to go undetected) is to have bracelets with the names of the children on it.  Whoever is in charge of keeping their eye on that specific child wears that specific bracelet.  If they need a break, they pass the bracelet to someone else.  It's too easy to assume "someone else" is watching the child.  

Pinkmani Pinkmani

What a sad story! You can't take your eyes off the rugrats. 

nonmember avatar Michelle

While a horrible tragedy and my prayers go out to this family, a life jacket is NO EXCUSE not to CONTINUE to watch your child around water!!! And education on the child's part is imperative, whether it be swimming lessons or just saying that "you cannot go in the water ANYWHERE without asking mommy or daddy first". But sometimes even if we do everything right, accidents happen...that's just life. RIP baby Ellison :)

nonmember avatar Lilac

I thought those child life vests if put on correctly the child cannot take them off.

nonmember avatar Ducdevil75

I've been swimming since I was 4 years old, and was a competitive swimmer, water polo player, and lifeguard/swim teacher. I still teach swim in the summers, and the first thing that I teach my students is how to get out if they fall in, where are the stairs, where is the side of the pool, etc. Even so, one of the moms told me that last week she took her 3 year old to her friend's pool and her son was standing on the steps next to her while she was talking to a friend, and he just stepped off the stairs and went under and she didn't even notice! No splash or anything, he just went under and she realized about 30 seconds later. He was so scared, the poor thing, and completely forgot what to do. He said he was looking up at mommy from under water but she couldn't see/hear him and he was scared. ALWAYS keep your eye on the kids and be prepared to jump in and rescue them. If you can't swim, you have no business having a pool where you kids can fall in and you can't do a damn thing to help them either.

Boobo... Boobookittt74

This is heartbreaking. Small kids are FAST I dont blame the mother. But you just cannot turn your back on them. I tell my husband repeatedly all the time because we have 3 and I'm always afraid the baby will take his attention from watchin my 2 yr old as closely

MomLi... MomLily67

All auxiliary devices are not meant to keep your child safe by themselves. A responsable adult must be with them at all times around water. 


Such a tragic accident.

JCKit... JCKitten87

um, NO. my daughter is 4 and is never out of my sight in water or some one else's sight that i FULLY trust to pay attention, even with a life jacket. that being said, as soon as my daughter has the attention span, she will go into swim lessons until she is proficient in the skill. I did not learn how to swim until I was 15, and I taught myself. 10 years later I am still scared to jump in the water. I want my daughter to have fun and be safe in water. The only thing that has eased my fear of drowning is the fact that my husband was a certified lifeguard when we met.

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