18 Seconds

A life is lost in what feels like an instant at the St. Albans pool in Delaware County

Joanie Logan was only three years old, but she had a presence you could not ignore. As smart and confident as she was beautiful, she was the child who people would say is going to be something someday.

Her someday was taken from her on Saturday.

On Memorial Day weekend, in a crowded pool at a private club on the Main Line, with hundreds of people around, Joanie Logan drowned. No one at the St. Albans pool that day and no one in Joanie’s family will ever be the same.

Joanie Logan is the daughter of my nephew Danny and his wife, Katie. I was at their home late Saturday, and I have never before witnessed such unadulterated pain.

I share this horrible story with you because maybe out of tragedy we can all learn something and maybe save the “someday” of another child.

Joanie’s parents were at the pool and lost sight of their daughter for what seemed like a second. Every parent has been there and felt that panic as they search for their child and imagine the worst thing that could happen. For Danny and Katie, the worst thing did happen. Joanie followed some “big girls” to deeper water. When they found her, she was floating in the water.

Later at Bryn Mawr Hospital, through the fog of her shock, Joanie’s mommy heard a doctor say that a child that size can drown in 18 seconds. The next day, Katie Logan stood in the shower and counted slowly to 18. In solitude it seems like an eternity. In a crowded pool with all its distractions, 18 seconds is a flash. A little girl is there and then she is gone.

It is a story with several victims and no heroes; a story with no blame, but a powerful lesson.

Whether on a beach, a crowded public pool or in your backyard, the water that looks so calm and inviting can take your child in the time it takes to make a phone call, run to the bathroom or turn to talk to someone.

You may think you have the time, but sometimes you don’t. The next time you think you do, let this face of an angel remind you that sometimes you only have 18 seconds.

Funeral Mass: Friday, June 3, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church, 31 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr. Viewing: Thursday, June 2, 2011 after 4 p.m. at Dan & Katie’s residence, 762 Rugby Road, Bryn Mawr. Burial: SS Peter & Paul Cemetery. Donations: In Joanie’s Memory to St. Rita of Cascia’s Shrine, 1166 Broad Street, Philadelphia.

LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Thursday. See his previous columns here. To watch his video commentaries, go to wpix.com.

  • sherman

    So sorry for your family’s loss.

  • Dawn

    This is too sad!!

  • Patty

    So sorry for your loss. Some are meant to go early and leave a legacy. There is NOTHING that leaves a not just a whole but a cavern in your heart like the loss of a child. May God give you his Grace and surround you with good people to comfort you.

  • kimberly

    sorry for your loss,my prayers are with your family in your time of need!!!!!

  • Daisydmc

    So so sorry.

  • Stephanie

    My deepest condolences on your family’s loss. There is nothing worse than the loss of a child.

  • http://www.asuitablesolution.com Sara

    Yes Joanie was truly an angel and I was blessed to have known her and had her magical ways touch my heart.

  • Teresa

    My prayers are with you in this your deepest sorrow.

  • Donna

    So sorry for your loss she is so beauiful

  • Natalie

    Please know that you are in our prayers, We don’t know why or understand. But the Lord must have needd her home to look out for you and your family in a way u won’t understand. They say only the good die young so she must of been on the top of Gods list. Nothing we say or do is going to help ease the pain…just know we care. So sorry for th lost of beautiful angle. May she rest in peace!

  • Maureen

    I am so very sorry for this unspeakable loss. Thank you for ything the strength and courage to share Joanie’s story. I will not forget it, and I am most certainly going to watch my children much, much closer. My prayers are with you and your family.

  • linda

    My thoughts are with you and your family. She is with the angels in heaven. LORD LOOK OVER THIS FAMILY. Linda Smith

  • Kelley

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what you must be going through but know that many people are keeping you and your family in their thoughts and prayers. You now have an angel watching over you and your family!! Thinking of you all each and every day.

  • Diane Clayton

    Thank you so much for sharing this tragic story. Know that by doing so, you, Joanie and your family have already saved lives. My most heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

  • Amy Porter

    My heart is breaking for this family!!! I have a 2yr. old and can not imagine their pain!!!!! Prayers are with them at this very sad time!!!

  • shannon

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have two young children and cannot imagine the pain you are feeling. May God surround you with his love and may your little Angel rest in peace. Know that someday you will be reunited again. Thanks you for sharing this story, I will be keeping a much closer watch on my two little ones at the pool. God Bless You all.

  • Jessica

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss and can’t even begin to imagine. My heart breaks for you. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Carolyn

    My heart is breaking for the Logan and O’Leary family. I am so sorry for their loss. May their Angel rest in peace and watch over you till you meet again. God Bless you all.

  • Steve

    Sorry for this tragic family loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’ll punch John Bolaris in the face next time I see him if that makes you feel better.

  • Amy Cratin

    I can not even imagine. I have a three year old child who I take to the swim club in the summer. I have always been careful…but will now be vigilant. My heart aches for your family.

  • Donna

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I will be much more aware at the beach and at the pool because of Joanie.

  • Amy

    I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss! May the Lord watch over you and hold you close in this your darkest hour. May He comfort you and bless you in your time of need. God Bless!

  • Rita Jovinelli

    I know the pain of losing a little Angel. I am truely hearbroken for your family. You will hear alot of people say they are in no pain or in a better place, no you don’t want to hear that, you just want your baby back. I feel for your family and I will pray for you to one day feel peace in your heart. You will never get over the loss but just know that people think of your child often and you are loved by many. Again I’m so sorry and I will pray for you family.

  • Kathleen

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Jill

    I am so, so sorry for the loss of Joanie. I will share this story with my friends and family, and their friends and family, so that we can make sure that this tragic accident does not happen again. This is little Joanie’s legacy.

    This story has changed me, as it will change all of those who read this. My sincerest condolences. It could happen to any of us.

  • Janne

    I am so very sorry for this terrible loss. What a beautiful little girl. My prayers will be for your family. Thank you for sharing so others will be reminded to be safe.

  • Alicia

    So sad & heartbreaking….my thoughts & prayers are with all of Joanie’s family during this difficult time!

  • Shannon

    I am so sorry for your loss. Joanie will
    Always be with you.

  • MJ

    I am so sorry for your loss. You are in our prayers and please know she is an angel in Heaven.

  • Jennie

    Unbelievably heartbreaking. Thoughts and prayers with you and the family, and thank you for reminding all of us that it can be taken from us in a flash.

  • Manda

    So sorry for your loss. I was there at the pool to witness this accident. God bless you and your family!

  • Barbara

    May God give this family strength to make it through the months to come. I feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, it has been lingering ever since I saw this on the news. They are living every parents worst nightmare and I want so badly to take away their pain. I pray they have faith and hope they will rely on our Lord to ease them through this journey.

  • Denny J

    What a beautiful baby… I don’t know anyone in the family but nothing could be harder to deal with than this. It’s very sad news and I pray for the family and the little Angel Joanie.

  • mary ann

    I dont know this family but there story is going to make me keep my eyes on my grandchildren age are 6 years 2 1/2 and 19 months i am so sorry for your lost she was a beautiful child know that my prayes will be with this family for a long time no parents should have to loss a child. I know nothing anyone could say will easy the pain you are going throu so sorry. with love and prays peace

  • Judy B

    May God grant you with strnghth and courage. May her small soul rest in peace…. God bless all of you

  • Theresa

    Joanie may have saved my son…I had my two year old at the pool for the first time last weekend. He was determined to follow the big kids and it took everything for me to keep up with him. After I learned what happened to Joanie, my husband and I bought a float life vest and vowed that our son would have it on the whole time we are at the pool…not just when he is in the water. We will still have to keep up with him, but Joanie is making me hug my kids harder and not mind keeping up! It’s not much consolation right now, but Joanie will probably impact more than just my son. She is an angel!

  • tricia mckee

    I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. May God grant you peace in the days ahead.

  • Millie J

    She is now an angel in Heaven rest in Gods eternal peace. May God give you strength and comfort in the days to come. She is now your guardian angel.

  • dianna

    i am so sorry for you loss. May god give you the strength to get through this extremely sad time.

  • Connie

    God Bless that little angel. Such a tragic event and if their is any good to come out of this it will be that other children will be saved because of Joanie. Prayers and thoughts are with your family at this time of loss, God Bless. Wish a law could be passed that would require life vests for children under 5 to be worn at swim clubs and public pools.

  • trisha

    May she rest in peace and may God hold you and your family in the palm of His hand. My prayers are with you.

  • Carol

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am a mother of 7 and a grandmother of 8 and I pray that you will find some peace in the days to come. My prayers are with you!

  • Janette

    I am so saddened by your loss. She is so beautiful. I hope and pray that her family can work through this tragedy and be strong for one another…I cannot imagine how difficult it must be. She is your guardian angel. She will be watching over you and waiting for you to someday meet again

  • Kathy

    Sorry for the tragic loss of such a beautiful little girl. Now she is in heavan watching over all who loved her.

  • Linda Haffelfinger

    I had the pleasure of being one of Joanies teachers for the last two years. I can’t begin to say what a joy she was to us all. She really did love to sing and we would often have a day of Annie songs. My heart is broken. I can’t even imagine how Katie and Dan are holding up. I wish all the Logan and O’leary family peace and love. GOD BLESS.

  • Barbara

    My heart is crying for this sweet, beautiful angel.

  • Lynn/PA

    Powerful. I have always had a fear of drowning. Thank you for making this post. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for using the loss as a way of raising the awareness in honor and memory of Joanie.

  • Lisa

    What a tragic story, my heart aches for this family. My sincere condolences to them.

  • http://nhungneoduongtrangian.blogspot.com Nguyen Duy LInh

    please share the pain
    What a pity the baby

  • Natalie

    may the memories of joanie bring you peace. May your darling angel rest in peace as she watches over you. She is in God’s presence now, and forever in your hearts… My sincere sympathy goes out to the family.

  • nilofer haroon

    what a heartbreaking loss…all my prayers for the family and may they have the strength and courage to
    bear this .

  • twinmom

    It is heartbreaking to hear of such a tragedy happening to a gorgeous little girl, and her family that is suffering. As a mother of a 2 1/2 year old with an inground pool, it is good to know that something so horrible can happen so quickly.

  • Shirley

    My heart goes out to you and your family as you try to come to terms with this unbearable loss.

  • Gina

    I m sorry for you lose and my praryers go to yur family,I to understand what your going though m uncle years ago had a pool and a three yr olddrowned in his pool he was in such pain over it. Neighbors were usung his pool and forgot to put up the steps. A the child was found in the pool. It broke down the pool that day so it would not happen again.

  • Larry Mendte

    Thank You all for your prayers and kind words.

    The best thing you cand do post a link to this story on your Facebook page, your Twitter accounts and your blogs.

    Get the word out. Joanie’s story may just save another little boy or girl. Thank You.

  • Christy

    May God give you strength and may time bring you peace.

  • Barbara Headley

    I am heartbroken by this even though I do not know this pretty little girl. My son did not die but was hit by a truck and suffered severe brain injury. It was a few days after graduation from high school. I lost the son I knew that day, the pain was unimaginable and still is. Although I know it is much more tragic for you, I can very much relate. God Bless.

  • kristi

    My heart is breaking for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.May God give you the strength to find peace in your heart.

  • http://facebook kass mcconlogue

    Your heartbreak has travelled over the airways to Michigan. I cannot imagine what is happening to you both. I lift you up in prayer to God’s loving hands._ He has promised, and it will come.

  • Dottie

    my thoughts and prayers are with Mom & Dad and their families, a beautiful little angel

  • abby

    Our deepest condolences. Hearts and prayers with the family and relatives.

  • Lisa

    So sorry to hear of this tragedy. My heart aches for this family, I cannot imagine their pain. She was a beautiful girl and it seems like she had a special way about her.

  • Phyllis

    I too am soo very sorry to hear of your loss. My prayers are with you and your family.

  • rico

    This is the worst nightmare. I agree that the story is a stark reminder. Every parent should know to keep their small children in hand/safe when around a body of water. Get them swimming lessons ASAP at the local Y or community pool.

    Russia has lost dozens of children, of all ages, every summer; they did not know how to swim.

  • http://yahoo.com grace

    i think that this is very bad cuz this little kid was inocent.

  • boxcar

    I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you. One thing for certain, this little “angel” is now back home with the one Who sent her to you, and that is the God of heaven. I will just say this for your comfort. Try to go where she is, and be united with her for ever. The Bible tells us of such a place and that is where Jesus resides. The Bible is our road map to that place… God bless the family and friends of this beautiful little “angel” ….. al

  • Tim Bowers

    Were there no lifeguards on duty? No matter how crowed, if there were enough life guards on duty, this should NEVER have happened. It the ocean maybe, but never at a properly supervised swimming pool. From years as a lifeguard and Red Cross Water Safey Instructor at swimming pools during my college summers, a toddler outside ‘the wading pool’ — not with an adult — even just walking around the pool — demands an immediate response. This is a horrible tragedy, a heart breaking story.

    It should never happen at a supervised public swimming pool – and no public swimming pool should be unguarded or under staffed. That pool should be CLOSED until its safety standards are critically reviewed and drastically improved.

  • Stephanie M

    So heartbreaking. Very sorry for the loss of Joanie. As a mom, I can’t imagine the depth of the sorrow her parents must be feeling. May they find comfort and peace in the memories of their beautiful child. RIP sweet girl.

  • phyllis steele

    My prayers go out to you and your family.God blessed you with an amazing angel. And looking at her you can see how loved she is. I will keep you in my prayers . And I will never forget her story.

  • http://comcast mary c.

    joanie was a beautiful little girl.she is now a beautiful little angel!
    god bless the family.

  • John Swisding

    So very sorry to hear about such a tragic loss. I really want to thank you Larry for sharing this story as we now are grandparents and as such we are entrusted with the care of our grandchildren, which is MUCH more of a demanding and sometimes even frightening responsibility than when we we just parents. Please accept my most sincere condolences.
    (I’m a tennis player and a friend of Fay Hanson’s.)

  • Martha

    It is appalling that the St. Albans Swim Club web site has absolutely no reference to this unspeakable tragedy. They should take responsibility and provide a public explanation and apology. Drowning is a preventable tragedy. Infants and small children can be trained to survive in water, and they all should be. Most swimming lessons do not train survival. If your child cannot float, your child will drown, no matter what anyone says about how they can swim.

  • Janel

    Depend on EVERYONE and everything to get yourselves through these hard times.
    My heart poors for you and prays for cope and ability for your family to move forward.

  • Laura Scott

    Larry, I am sure this was very difficult for you to write. you did a great job on this article. well written, emotional but informative. I have posted this to my facebook and hope that friends will read and learn from it. something good can happen from somehting bad. God bless little Joanie.

  • Jennifer

    I think about your family often. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. This tragic event will forever keep me more focused on safety while at the pool with our young daughters. Thank you for sharing. May God bless your family in these difficult days.

  • http://j7d.net Krystal

    I wish i was able to write stuff like that, man, you have a great talent.