Two little girls, classmates and friends, taken in the flower of their youth – that was how friends and loved ones recalled Koral Sheri and Or Koren, who were found dead in a pool at a Savyon house on Tuesday afternoon.
Sheri was buried on Thursday in Yehud; Koren’s funeral is set for Friday, also in Yehud.
Ahead of his daughter’s funeral, Ilan Sheri described her as a lover of nature and green spaces, who always clamored to work in a community garden in Yehud that she helped create. Sheri said that the mayor and other officials from Yehud said they had decided to make the garden a memorial park for Koral.
“If you want to know who Koral was, look at this place,” her father told reporters, pointing at the vegetables growing behind him at the garden.
On Wednesday the girls’ bodies were taken to the L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir to determine the cause of death.
At the moment speculation has focused on two main possibilities: that they were electrocuted – possibly by a pool-cleaning robot or by faulty wiring in the pool’s lighting system, or that they were killed by some sort of contaminant in the water. Tel Aviv police said Thursday afternoon that the autopsies were not yet able to prove conclusively the cause of death and that it could be days at least until they know what killed Koral and Or.
The girls studied together at the Herzl school in Yehud. On Thursday the school held an assembly with classmates of the girls, where teachers and social workers talked to them about the tragedy. According to one report in the press, many of the classmates first heard the news on WhatsApp, with news of Koral and Or’s deaths circulating on the texting system throughout Shavuot eve.
On Thursday morning, the Maytronics company, which makes automated pool cleaners and whose cleaner was used in the pool in Savyon, posted a statement on the website of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange attempting to distance itself from any connection to the tragedy. It described how in articles about the incident there were pictures of its pool-cleaning robot, and that the company was having difficulty seeing “any connection between the product to the deaths, partly due to the fact that it operates on 24 volts of power.”
The past five weeks have been among the most deadly in years for children, with the two Yehud girls joining 13 other children who perished in preventable accidents.
The Center for Occupational Safety’s information director Andrei Matias said on Thursday that to prevent tragic and senseless accidents, people must abide by rules. Swimming pools must always be surrounded by a fence to prevent small children from getting in. Their swimming must always be supervised.
“The pool’s electrical system must be sealed to prevent the entrance of water that could cause electrocution. These systems must use low-level current, no more than 12 volts.
The electrical equipment, including pumping, filtration and lighting, has to be no closer than three to 5 meters from the pool,” he said. “There must be shield breakers with a sensitivity of 30 milliampere that are checked at least once monthly.”
Pool-cleaning and sterilization materials must be stored in a locked, shady and ventilated area, with signs indicating what they are. Chemical materials must be on a separate shelf, and the pool users must be trained in utilizing them, he said.
The automatic equipment that injects the chemicals must be checked and maintained regularly. Do not mix chemicals or clean or sterilize the pool water when swimming in it. Wash your hands carefully after using the chemicals, Matias advised.
Private swimming pools are not covered by the same regulations as public pools; in most cases, professionals who install and maintain pools can be trusted. But one must always keep an eye on children who use the pool at home or – as in a recent case in a bed-and-breakfast resort in the North – on vacation.
While there are usually lifesavers at public pools, there are none at private pools, thus requiring more parental or adult supervision at all times.
Locks must be installed as high as possible to prevent children from opening the gate. An alarm system should be installed to warn when someone enters the pool area without permission. When the pool is not in use, the water should be covered if there is no fence. Surfaces around the pool must not be slippery.
According to the institute, mobile toys such as bicycles must not be located near a pool, so children do not fall in. Do not leave chairs, tables or other furniture near the pool that can be climbed on to enter the fenced-off pool area, said Matias.
When the construction of the pool is planned, it should be done with a clear view from the home to the pool.
The pool’s various depths should be marked every 20 centimeters, even though this is not required by law.
Access to pumping openings should be locked. First aid equipment, including an aluminum pole 5-meters long with a ring at the end, should always be available for swimmers to grasp if they get into trouble in the water, Matias said.