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New Jersey family who drowned trying to save daughter didn’t know how to swim


Katie Kausch

NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

A mother and grandfather who drowned in their backyard pool were trying to rescue an 8-year-old girl who had fallen in, police said.

An 8-year-old girl, her mother, Nisha Patel, 33, and her paternal grandfather, Bharat Patel, 62, all drowned in the above-ground pool in their East Brunswick home Monday afternoon, police said.

The young girl had fallen into the pool, and her grandfather and mother were trying to save her when they too began to drown, East Brunswick Lt. Frank Sutter said. None of them could swim, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office said.

The adults apparently did not realize how deep the pool was when they went in, Sutter said.

The pool was mostly about 3 1/2 feet deep, but had a deep end which was about 7 feet deep, the prosecutor’s office said. Real estate listings show that the pool was already installed when the Patel family purchased the home in April.

All three were pronounced dead at the scene.

An aunt was outside when the drowning happened, but the exact sequence of events remains under investigation, Sutter said.

An electrician was called to the home to rule out any electrical involvement before investigators entered the pool, Sutter said. Electricity was not a factor in their deaths, officials said.

“It was just a very tragic accident,” Sutter said.

The Patel family moved into the home within the past month, and a pool company was recently at the home to open the pool, a neighbor told NJ Advance Media.

Police were called to the home around 4:20 p.m. on Monday, when a neighbor reported hearing screaming, officials said.

A different neighbor told NJ Advance Media she saw EMS jump into the pool to attempt the rescue the woman, but it was too late.

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Katie Kausch may be reached at kkausch@njadvancemedia.com. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.


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