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Mystery surrounds the death of Newham College student who drowned in the US

PUBLISHED: 09:29 04 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:29 04 December 2018

Daniel Olatunji drowned in the US (pic: gofundme.com/daniels-return-and-funeral-costs)

Daniel Olatunji drowned in the US (pic: gofundme.com/daniels-return-and-funeral-costs)

Archant

A mother whose only child drowned in a hotel pool has spoken of her regret at taking him on holiday to the USA.

A mother whose only child drowned in a hotel pool has spoken of her regret at taking him on holiday to the USA.

Daniel Olatunji and his mum Sarah were visiting friends in in Los Angeles in December 2016. The 18-year-old Newham College student’s body was found in the Crown Airport Hotel’s pool the day after they arrived.

A devastated Ms Olatunji said she would regret all her life making him join her on the Christmas trip after he pleaded with her to let him stay at home.

In a statement read at the inquest into her son’s death on Monday, she said: “Daniel was a happy child. He was always happy to offer a helping hand to anyone.”

The night before he died Daniel asked his mum if he could go to the poolside, taking his mobile phone.

Ms Olatunji said he didn’t plan to go swimming and promised to return soon.

“He was not a great swimmer,” she said.

When she woke at 6am on New Year’s Eve she found Daniel’s bed had not been slept in.

Following a frantic search, she fainted after another guest told her a young man had drowned.

“By the time I arrived at hospital, he had passed. My life has never been the same,” Ms Olatunji said.

The court heard LA police found Daniel lying by the pool after being called at 11.22pm on December 30.

A witness told them he saw Daniel in the shallow end before dragging him out of the pool minutes later.

Despite regaining consciousness on the way to the Harbour Ucla Medical Center, Daniel was pronounced dead at 2:59am on December 31.

A post mortem showed no signs of disease or injuries to his body.

Medical experts concluded inflamed lungs might have affected Daniel’s breathing but were an unlikely cause of death.

No statement was taken from the witness and LA police reported there were no suspicious circumstances.

Walthamstow Coroner’s Court’s chief coroner, Nadia Persaud, reached an open verdict on how Daniel died because there was insufficient evidence which end of the pool Daniel was found in or if he was dressed for swimming.

It was also uncertain whether there was CCTV footage from the hotel pool. Daniel’s mobile phone remains missing.

Ms Persaud said: “Because there are so many unanswered questions, I’m not able to reach the conclusion Daniel died as a result of an accident. I do not know how he came to be at the bottom of the pool.”

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