A mum from South London has shared the story of how her 5-year-old son nearly drowned after being sucked down into a hot tub while on holiday in South Africa.


Lucinda Leathes, from Wandsworth, was enjoying a hot tub session with her sons Sammy, 5, and Alfie, 7. Sammy immersed himself in the bubbles as he had before - but this time after a few seconds he didn't come back up.

“I could see his blue and white shorts under the bubbles and put my arm down to help him up," says Lucinda.

"It was like pulling on a lump of concrete. I thought I was imagining it but quickly realised this was a really, really bad situation and I screamed for help.”

Sammy had been swimming under water in the tub when his stomach got sucked in by the grill and totally covered it.

More like this

Lucinda's screams for help were heard by her husband Tim and and her uncle, who were inside the villa they were staying in. They raced to help, trying to pull Sammy out.


“At first I thought his foot was stuck and we couldn’t see clearly through the bubbles but when two grown men were pulling on him and he wouldn’t come up I realised it was the drain and they were pulling against all that pressure and all that water," Lucinda told the Royal Life Saving Society. "I thought that was it – he would be dead.”

She tried to find the button to turn the hot tub off and eventually managed to - though that proved difficult as nothing was labelled.

By the time his dad and Lucinda's uncle were able to get Sammy our of the water he was blue, floppy and unconscious.

Fortunately, Sammy was OK - but the experience, as you can imagine, has made Lucinda determined to make others aware of the dangers of hot tubs.


“This hot tub was small and shallow and, although I knew they recommend only over 16s go in them, I thought it was because of the heat or bacteria and as I was right next to Sam, touching him, I thought he was safe.

"I would never have ever thought of the danger of drains.

“I would urge people to be aware of the risks of hot tubs, and indeed any water, especially while on holiday with unfamiliar pools and hot tubs and varying safety laws."

For more information on water safety visit the Royal Life Saving Society UK website

Photos: Royal Life Saving Society UK

Read more



Tara BreathnachContent Editor and Social Media Producer

Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015