ORANGE CITY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Two central Florida parents have a warning for parents everywhere after a party trick nearly caused their 10-year-old son to drown.
Surveillance video taken at Joe and Marlene Vinciguerra’s Orange City home shows their son, Josh, playing with a balloon near their pool one minute. Moments later, it shows them frantically trying to breathe life into him.
Marlene Vinciguerra wants to warn parents about what happened in the minutes in between.
"I don't think that I would have felt alarmed in saying: ‘No, no, no Josh, don't do that.’ Because every kid does it. It's just a goofy thing to do,” Marlene Vinciguerra said.
Josh is a healthy, athletic kid. He’s a good swimmer, and Marlene was standing at the grill next to the pool when the near drowning happened.
"What would happen to him that he would just stop breathing and go under water like that?" Joe Vinciguerra wondered, so he went to the surveillance video for answers.
The balloon that Josh had been bouncing around was a helium balloon and the Vinciguerras say he’d just learned what happens when you suck helium.
"All I remember is sucking in helium and that's it,” Josh said.
What happened next takes your breath away. The video shows Josh go under water, then sink to the bottom of the pool.
He’s there for about two minutes, while Marlene tries to get his attention eventually realizing that she needs to jump in to save her little boy’s life.
Joe said Josh later explained: "He took a real big swig of it and slowly gradually went under water so he could sneak up behind my wife and talk like Alvin and the Chipmunks.”
An emergency room doctor told FOX 35 it’s possible the combination of sucking helium and holding his breath caused Josh to pass out under water.
"Something so innocent as something fun actually almost cost him his life!" Marlene Vinciguerra said.
After a few days in the hospital, Josh recovered perfectly.
The Vinciguerras know boys will be boys, but helium and a swimming pool combined for an unexpected danger they never expected.
"All my friends have boys and we can see any one of them doing this!” she said.