Near-drowning recalled

The Journal front page following the incident.


A TODDLER’S tragic death in Dandenong Creek this month brought back memories for councillor Angela Long.
Her son Kevin almost drowned at age 4.
Ishnael Baqaie, 3, from Doveton, was playing in Dandenong Park about 2.30pm on 10 September when it appears he toppled into the creek, fast-flowing following heavy rain.
Emergency crews found his body the following afternoon, several kilometres downstream near Greens Road.
“It really took my breath away. It reminded me so much … to think that we were so lucky,” Cr Long said, choking back tears.
“I know it’s 40 years but you never get over it. It was dreadful.
“At least we got our son back.”
Cr Long spoke to the Journal to urge parents to keep their eye on children around water of any kind.
“People only think of swimming pools for drowning, or the beach,” she said.
“They don’t think of creeks, which run very fast.
“Even one or two year olds can drown in a bucket of water.
“You have to be so, so careful.”
The Journal reported in 1974 that Cr Long’s husband Barry took Kevin with him to Ready-Mix in Doveton on 21 September.
“Kevin must have walked towards the pool,” Barry said.
“The pit must have been about 20 feet long with concrete walls with the water level 18 inches off the ground.
“One of the chaps started dredging the pit with a big stick.
“It was then I put my hands in through the foamy stuff and found him. I got him by the jumper.
“I was looking at his eyes. His face was stone grey.
“I hugged him to my chest and screamed: Christ, he’s dead … he’s dead!”
But a Ready-Mix employee stepped in and performed “heart massage” and “the kiss of life”, and Kevin made a recovery that a Dandenong and District Hospital spokesman described as a “medical miracle”.
Cr Long said kids were quick and loved water.
“Water is a fascination. I took Kevin to swimming lessons about two weeks after.
“We couldn’t take him before that because he had stuff on his lungs, and we had physiotherapy.
“He jumped in the deep end straight away.”
Kevin, now 44, lives in Brunswick with girlfriend Denielle Gorman and her niece Esme.