Julian's story

Julians' story, by Kym Patricia Coon - 17th April 2008

On Sunday 13th January 2008 a beautiful 3yr old little boy was playing in the family pool with his younger brother and Mum in Wellington, country NSW.

It was a very hot day and Julian was investigating the insects and leaves that floated in and out of the pools’ skimmer box, as he had done many times before. The skimmer box is at water level on the side of the pool and is connected to the pools’ filter system.

In an instant, Julian had sat on the skimmer box and he was partially sucked in, forming an airtight seal. As a result of the pools’ filter still trying to pump, he was disembowelled. In one brief moment, Julians’ life had changed, as had the lives of his mum, dad and brother.

Within hours of the accident, Julian was flown to Westmead Childrens’ Hospital in Sydney and his bowel was replaced inside him. The four and a half months spent in hospital were at times heart-breaking, he was on a feeding tube for 3 months, battled many infections and underwent 10 operations.

The local support of the Wellington and Dubbo community was a great strength to the family at this difficult time. Comobella Playgroup, of which Julian was a part, prepared homemade meals for Julians mum, dad and brother whilst in hospital.

Fundraising events, ‘A day in the Park for Julian’ & ‘Monster Auction for Julian’ raised over $25,000 for the family.

Since this horrific accident many people have approached me with terrible stories involving older style pool filters – which I’ve come to learn even had the name ‘potty-style’ skimmer box. I have also heard cases of tragedy and serious injury involving spa filters, with long hair becoming caught and sucking the childs’ head under the water, resulting in drowning, scalping or serious injury. Although these ‘potty style’ skimmer boxes have been banned from sale for many years, they still exist in some pools. Please check your pool, your friends’ pool or any pool you and your children use. If you have this style of skimmer box remove it or have it altered to prevent the child sitting in/on it. Locate the switches and turn off the pool filters whenever people are swimming in the pool.

There is little information about this danger to be found. As tragic as it is, I feel it important to share this story with as many people as possible.

I do not want to sensationalise Julians story, goodness knows he and his family have been through enough. I do not wish to raise hysteria to swimming pools. But I do want to share this story in the hope that no other child or family will have to go through such trauma and pain.

My intention is to raise awareness to the potential hazards involving pools and spas.
It is only through education and awareness that we can understand these risks and what to do about them. We can make a difference.

Please support ‘Walk for Julian’ on Sunday 20th July 2008. A 45k Walk from Dubbo to Wellington symbolizing taking baby steps forward with courage, patience and inner strength. The path ahead is not always smooth or easy, but with support, unity and compassion we can achieve great things together.


By Julians’ aunty Kym


Kym Patricia Coon

Walk For Julian

Social and Community Entrepreneurs


ABC TV - The 7.30 Report - Pool safety feature - 30th April 2008

Virgin Unite official website

Community Builders NSW

Media Man Australia


Morning in park music to ears of toddler’s family - 11th March 2008

Brave Julian battles on - 14th February 2008