Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twitter Post About Son's Drowning Sparks UPROAR

cherub Pictures, Images and Photos

I can still remember giving my oldest son his very first bath. Back then I didn't have the money for fancy little tubs that allowed your child to recline on a foam mat. Instead I had to use one of those old fashioned plastic tubs that sat on the counter while you clutched you very wet, very slippery little baby.

My mother was there and I remember her saying to me, "Cathy I hope that you will always remember that there is never, ever, a phone call that is worth you leaving your child in the tub alone to answer the phone."

Now, while my Mom is definitely a strange bird, and no phone was ringing when I was washing my slippery angel, she did have a very good point. The job of parent is filled with peril and something as innocuous as a phone call could rob you of your most precious gift.

Children drowning in bathtubs account for about two-thirds of the 459 reported drowning deaths in the home. The majority of these bathtub deaths occur when the caregiver is not present. In the time it takes to step out of the room to get a towel or answer the phone, a young child can drown. Never leave a child alone in the bathtub for even a minute.

As my mother often pointed out, "Grieving mothers always say that they were only gone for a minute." It is in that one minute that your life can change.

Becoming a parent makes you acutely aware of all the dangers you never knew existed until you had a small child. For example I, like many parents and caregivers never realized the danger buckets pose. From 1996 through 1999, CPSC received reports of 58 children under age 5 who drowned in 5-gallon buckets. Even a small amount of liquid can be deadly.

Most people are aware that swimming pools can be dangerous for children who are left unsupervised. It only takes a minute for your life to change. I think that one of the reasons that the story of Bryson Ross hits home for so many of us is that we know that there but for the grace of God....

This week I had three wisdom teeth pulled. That's right three of them so I guess I'm really not so smart any more. I was still groggy and out of it lying on the couch when I first heard about the mother who "Twittered after her son drowned".

I was certain that I heard the story wrong. What does that mean exactly? I blamed the pain medication for causing me to hear the story wrong. I then said I would check out the story the next day when I could actually put two coherent thoughts together.

Two days later I've finally gotten around to doing some background on the story.

Friends of Shellie Ross call the 37-year-old a caring, devoted mom. Ross has two other sons, 18-year-old Cody and 11-year-old Kris. Sadly a mother grieves for her son Bryson. Her life changed in a moment that I am certain she wishes she could have back.

This is the story as I understand it to be. If I am wrong it is only because I am obviously not privy to all the facts. I only know what has been posted out in the blogosphere. In a way I am almost reluctant to post the story because on one hand I wonder if there is reason for me to add to the family's pain by posting yet another story on their tragedy.

On the other hand, I'm also aware that there has been a campaign taken on by friends and associates of Shellie's to attack people who are asking questions. I've decided to ask questions and see where the answers take me.

Ross is an established personality in the online world, with her own blog ( and Twitter account ( More than 5,300 people follow her Twitter posts.

On Monday, Shellie tweeted throughout the day about what was going on in her life, including decorating the family’s Christmas tree in a house they had just moved into on Dec. 1. At 5:22 p.m. Monday, she tweeted about the rare fog that rolled over Brevard County as she worked in her chicken coop.

According to 9-1-1 records, a phone call from Ross came in at 5:38 p.m. that she had found her son at the bottom of their screened-in swimming pool.

She posted a tweet at 6:12 p.m.: “Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool.”

There is nothing in Ross’ posts that indicate she was on the computer or cell phone at the time of the tragedy.

Shellie Ross, posted on about his accident a half-hour after she called paramedics — and then was attacked by strangers nationwide in follow-up tweets and blogs for doing so.

The people who attacked Shellie point to this Twitter Timeline which they feel points to a mother far more concerned with twittering than with watching her children:


This is a timeline of events on Dec. 14 surrounding the death of 2-year-old Bryson Ross, according to Brevard County Sheriff’s Homicide Investigator Joe Martin and timestamps on Shellie Ross’ Twitter account:
5:17 p.m., 5:18 p.m., 5:19 p.m., and 5:21 p.m. – Shellie Ross twittered about her chickens in the far backyard.

5: 22 p.m. - “Fog is rolling in thick scared the birds back in the coop

5:23 p.m. - Kris Ross, 11, called 9-1-1 to report that his 2-year-old brother was found in the pool and not breathing

5:24 p.m. – The call was entered into the command center’s log.

5:25 p.m. - A deputy was dispatched to the home on Pintail Drive.

5:27 p.m. – Dispatchers sent Brevard County Fire Rescue personnel to the home.

5:30 p.m. – The deputy arrived on the scene.

5:32 p.m. – Brevard County Fire Rescue arrived at the home to find Bryson in cardiac arrest.

5:41 p.m. – The ambulance left the home for the hospital. CPR was performed during the 14 minute ride.

5:55 p.m. – The ambulance arrived at Cape Canaveral Hospital.

6:00 p.m. – Doctors pronounced Bryson dead in the emergency room, while his mother sat in the waiting room with a Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Victim’s Advocate and a hospital chaplain.

6:12 p.m. – Ross twittered: “Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool”

6:31 p.m. – Doctors told Ross that her son died.

In a tweet posted Tuesday morning, Ross wrote, “I was outside with him and it took two seconds for him to slip away.”

According to the the police, Ms. Ross and her two sons had been cleaning out the Merrit Island, Fla., family's chicken coop when she instructed the two boys to turn off the hose inside the house, said Lt. Bruce Barnett of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office. When the elder son returned without Bryson, Ms. Ross searched for the boy around the house before finding him face-down in the family's pool.

She administered CPR as her other son dialed 911.

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office called it an accidental drowning. Tragically, about 350 children under age 5 drown in swimming pools each year.

For now, the Ross family simply wants to be left alone to grieve. Here is a statement from her site:

Media outlets: Please leave us alone, stop trespassing onto our property. Yes this includes the private drive you have to turn down to get of our home. Stop calling me my family and friends for comments. WE ARENT GIVING ANY, PERIOD, END OF STORY FOR YOU. Stop posting my information, photos of my home and address.

Those who do not know me, us our family: Find a hobby, get a job, get a clue please. You do not know me us or him. You do not have the right to speak or type his name. He was better than you in every way. Stop slandering my name, stop disrespecting my son and husband with your pitiful pathetic mouths.

There have been NO interviews granted by myself, my husband or my family. There will be no interviews granted, period end of story. So for those who have “covered” this tragedy without learning the facts, and who have miss spoken and have not gotten it right, gee thanks. If it were not for you I could mourn in peace. Let’s try this why don’t we, leave me alone, find your next victim and let my sons memory be one of good and peace and strength.


Who could possibly imagine the pain of losing your child unless you have lost your child? Should she be castigated for reaching out to others for prayer in her moment of need? Was it ‘inappropriate’ for her to share her grief on Twitter?

I do know that we all deal with grief in different ways and on different schedules. Have we not seen mothers try to throw themselves into the grave with their only child as they scream for God to take them instead? I have a difficult time believing that Mrs. Ross is not wracked with guilt and anguish. In her mind she probably wonders what, if anything she could have done differently? I would venture to say that she wishes for that moment back with each breath she takes.

One decision is now a consequence that can't be changed. That is the harsh reality of life. It was a simple request for the kids to turn off the water. How could you fortell that it would have such an outcome?

Her life is forever changed. The life of her remaining children will never be the same. The reality is that having surviving children doesn't lessen the pain of losing children. Her marriage will be tested as is often the case when a child dies. One-fourth to one-third of parents who lose a child report that their marriage suffers strains that sometimes prove irreparable.

While she and her family will never "get over" this tragic loss I hope they will find a way to heal and learn to reach out to each others. Maybe even reach out through her tweets and blogs to make others aware of the dangers of childhood drownings.

What lessons can be learned from this tragic incident? Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) -- it can be a lifesaver when seconds count. Drowning can happen in seconds! You are your child's last line of defense.

Bryson funeral was held December 22nd.

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