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Rocco Wright, 3, drowned in the David Lloyd pool in April 2018

The father of a three-year-old boy who drowned in a leisure center pool has told an inquest his son’s death “could and should have been prevented”.

Steven Wright said his panic grew as he searched for his son, Rocco, at the David Lloyd center in Moortown, Leeds, before spotting him at the bottom of the main pool.

Mr Wright planned to take Rocco swimming while his other sister had a lesson at the centre.

However, his sister’s lesson was canceled at short notice when an instructor called in sick, leading to “confusion” and “chaos” at the pool, the court heard.

Giving evidence at an inquest in Wakefield on Monday, Mr Wright criticized the visibility lifeguards had near the pool.

Rocco Wright drowned at David Lloyd Leisure Center pool in Leeds in 2018 (SWNS)Rocco Wright drowned at David Lloyd Leisure Center pool in Leeds in 2018 (SWNS)

Rocco Wright found dead at the bottom of David Lloyd Pool in Leeds (SWNS)

He said: “We as a family are concerned about the level of health and safety at the David Lloyd pool on the day Rocco died and we hope these have been addressed – particularly the visibility of the lifeguard in the pool area.

“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

“We believe Rocco’s death could and should have been prevented.”

Mr Wright told how he realized Rocco was no longer with him and described how he started searching for his son, still holding his life jacket.

The David Lloyd gym in Leeds where Rocco Wright drowned despite his father's desperate attempts to save him (SWNS)The David Lloyd gym in Leeds where Rocco Wright drowned despite his father's desperate attempts to save him (SWNS)

The David Lloyd gym in Leeds where Rocco Wright drowned despite his father’s desperate attempts to save him (SWNS)

He said: “I looked around and noticed ‘Rocco’s not there’.

“(Rocco) had a natural fear of water, so the last place I thought he went was in the pool.”

The inquest heard that Mr Wright searched near the pool and an adjoining corridor.

It wasn’t until he discovered he wasn’t in the kiddie pool that he “started to really panic.”

“Then I turned around and looked at the main pool,” he said. “Then I saw him.”

Mr Wright said: “I just saw an outline at the bottom of the pool. It was Rocco.”

The father of two dived in and dragged his son out.

Asked about his son’s attitude to water, Mr Wright said Rocco would not jump in on his own and would only enter a pool with his help. He agreed that Rocco may have become more confident in the water after a recent family holiday in Barbados.

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Pathologist Kirsten Hope said Rocco was put on a ventilator in hospital but was pronounced dead the next day. His family donated Rocco’s organs, which were used to save other people’s lives.

Rocco’s mother, Catharine Wright, said in a statement that her son “was never a natural water child.”

She said: “I wouldn’t say he was afraid of the water, but he was afraid to go in at first.”

Ms Wright said Rocco was “the most amazing, happy and cheerful boy you could ever wish to meet”.

The inquest is expected to last seven days.

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