Mike was the first one of my friends that I called to tell the dreaded news that Daniel had died.

He was one of Daniel’s most favourite persons outside our family and Daniel could never get enough of talking to Mike on the phone. About Barney, amongst things, I understand.

Danny died in Johannesburg, same city as where Mike lives. The letter below is from Mike, who is a Civil Engineer, following a press release by the Johannesburg City Council asking for public submission regarding proposed new swimming pool regulations.
To: The City of Johannesburg

I am pleased that the Johannesburg Council is considering amending the by laws and increasing the safety so far as swimming pools are concerned. I have for some time now been listening to the well publicised incidence of drowning on radio 94.7 This public awareness campaign in conjunction with Netcare 911 seems to have emphasized the extreme risk that toddlers are exposed to. All too often the victims were the children of domestic servants ending in pools where the house owners had not secured the pool against children falling in. With each reported tragedy I felt more strongly that these needless deaths can and should be prevented. However being removed and not affected directly one tends to forget the feeling not long after the news bulletin.

On the sixth of January this year a dear little friend of mine fell into the unprotected pool at his father’s house. Daniel Starbuck’s life was cut short two months before his fourth birthday. His mother accepted a request that he spend the last days of the holiday’s with his father in Johannesburg. The parents stayed apart and Daniel lived with his mother Alison.

I have now seen first hand how these senseless deaths rip family’s hearts apart. His mother, sister and brother are broken people and I am not sure they will ever recover. The little man is dearly missed by all who know the family. May he rest in peace.

I write thus for Daniel and all the other little lives lost to the inability of home owners to take simple steps to secure swimming pools. Precautions along the lines of fences, sprung gates, nets and alarms are not expensive when compared even to the upfront or running costs of a pool. These precautions are however priceless when just one toddler is saved.

Unfortunately most South Africans don’t value lives sufficiently to voluntarily install foolproof safety equipment. The proposed permit should thus increase home owner’s awareness of this issue and I hope stiff penalties await people who flout the proposed regulations. This legislation could also open the door to more successful criminal and civil lawsuits when deaths occur after owners have not taken all precautions.

I recommend that at least two independent safety systems be installed. A combination of fence/gate & alarm, fence/gate & net or net & alarm.

Yours faithfully.
Mike Hull Pr.Eng.
This blog was started with an unspoken wish to carry a message strong enough to possibly prevent another toddler from drowning.
If you are a parent with small children, please don’t let your baby become the next statistic. Remember Daniel and let him help you never to look away. Not even for a second.


Stephanie Silberman said...

Dear Alison,

We were very upset and saddened to hear what happened to your son Daniel. I've just checked out the blog you've made honoring him, and he was such a beautiful boy. I've also heard much about him from Mike, who cared about him very much, as you know. It's hard to even imagine how difficult this time must be for you. The loss of a child is so devastating, and it will certainly take a lot of time to heal. I hope that with each passing day, it will become a little bit easier for you and that you can take comfort in knowing that you were a good mother and that your son was well-loved by you, your family, and friends.

The circumstances of your son's death are certainly a reminder to us all on how important it is to forever be vigilant and watchful with our children. Each day on this earth is such a blessing, and I remind myself of that every day with my own two sons. I am just so sorry for your own loss.
Sending you a big hug from across the seas. Please take care of yourself.

Stephanie, Frank, Elliot, and Trevor

(via email)

Kat said...


If Hannahs Foundation can assist the Govt of Johannesburg bring in legislation to prevent drownings we are only too happy to help.

You and i walk this path, we meet because our angels have met in heaven, its our heavy aching hearts as mothers that want to make a difference. No mother or father or family should suffer what we have and continue to.

Please know that we think of your Daniel everyday and we pray that you are able to take that one step at a time. Im in tears reading your blog and its for good reason becuase I too hurt like you becuase someone chose not to protect our children.

Love always
Hannahs Mum in Australia