STA, 5 August 2020 - The death of a ten-year-old who drowned at a popular bathing spot in the Soča river last week has raised a series of questions in Slovenia, even more so after the parents accused the social services and the police of making the family tragedy even more unbearable by preventing communication.
The accident happened on 28 July, when the boy, who was holidaying with his grandparents and two siblings, was swimming at a bathing sport in Soča near Solkan, when the water level suddenly rose and he was swept downriver.
The bathing spot is situated just over a kilometre downstream from a hydro power station, where the water flow is regulated by means of gates. There had been drownings at this spot before.
The police said the next day that a couple of bathers downstream tried to aid him immediately, but could not swim fast enough to reach him.
Kayakers nearby also stepped into action immediately, trying to catch up with the boy but to no avail. He was found by the rescue services two hours later and could not be revived.
The parents revealed their harrowing side of the story yesterday. In a letter, they said it took hours before they were informed that their child had drowned and that they were not allowed to see his body for days.
They denied media reports that they were present when the accident happened. The police report said that the boy had been swimming in the company of an adult as part of a five-member family.
They said that the boy and his two brothers, aged six and 12, were staying with their grandparents, while the mother and father were in Ljubljana with their youngest child.
They said that the brothers on shore had asked people who were present to contact their parents after the accident, but police officers and social services disregarded the requests.
Moreover, after the parents learnt there had been an accident they were unable to contact the grandparents and their two sons, saying in the letter that this was prevented by the social services.
The social services said in response to the letter that they had followed the instructions of the police and provided psychological support to the grandparents and siblings who were in great shock and were unable to speak.
The social services experts thus tried to mitigate the distress of the children by trying to divert their attention. Moreover, the social services said that when the grandparents' phone rang, they did not answer due to shock.
Social services said that two of their staff stayed with the children and grandparents until the parents arrived. They wanted to see the body of their diseased son immediately and the staff told them, based on what they had learnt from the police, that the body had been taken to the Nova Gorica hospital.
However, no pathologist was on call there and the boy's body had been taken directly to the Forensic Medicine Institute in Ljubljana. The parents said that they were able to see their son only three days after he drowned.