New swimming pool legislation passed by committee Thursday

Measure comes after North Miami boy electrocuted by pool light

MIAMI – The Miami-Dade County Land Use and Development Committee approved a measure Thursday that prohibits the use of high-voltage lights and circuits in private pools.

The move comes five months after Calder Sloan, 7, died in the backyard of his family's North Miami home when he was electrocuted by a light in the swimming pool.

"That was a time bomb," his father, Chris Sloan, told Local 10 News just days after it happened. "That was a killer waiting to take somebody, and the sweetest boy in the world drew the unlucky straw which resulted in his death."

The pool light was connected to a transformer which was supposed to reduce the voltage from the home's electrical panel to 12 volts. According to the family's attorney, the transformer malfunctioned and a full 120 volts was sent to the light fixture. The light also wasn't properly grounded, so the safety system that should have tripped the circuit when that happened also failed.

"If the light and the pool pump and all of the pool equipment had been properly grounded, most likely this doesn't happen," attorney Ervin Gonzalez told Local 10 News in June when he filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Sloan family.

County commissioners with the Land Use and Development Committee passed an ordinance requiring that underwater lighting in all private swimming pools utilize transformers, low-voltage circuits and grounded lights that don't exceed 15 volts and 300 watts. Sloan's father spoke at the hearing.

"Our profound desire is that the tragedy that beset our son, who got it the worst, and our family never befalls another family or child again," he said.

The Florida Swimming Pool Association asked commissioners to hold off on approval, suggesting it was overboard.

"If the ordinance were to pass as drafted it could eliminate technologies that homeowners currently use in Miami-Dade and other parts of the state that are safe or safer than 15 or 12-volt lights," said Jennifer Hatfield of the association.

Commissioners unanimously approved the measure, which brings a little hope to Sloan's dad that perhaps another father won't have the same story to tell.

"In some ways, the fact that Calder's life is going to stand for a greater good -- I think that's a beautiful thing," Chris Sloan said.

The legislation will now go before the full Miami-Dade County Commission for final approval. If passed, the new law would go into effect in 10 days.

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