Sandwich 5-year-old continues to fight for his life after swimming accident at Snake Pond

SANDWICH—After a swimming accident at Snake Pond Sunday, a 5-year-old Sandwich resident remains in critical condition at Boston Children’s Hospital.

According to family friend Christine Petricca Ross, Zohaib Malik-Mohammad was placed into a medically induced coma Thursday. Doctors are hopeful the coma will give his body more time to heal, after he was found unresponsive in the shallow waters of Snake Pond.

At the time of the accident, Zohaib was attending a birthday party for Ross’ daughter when he suddenly went missing, Ross said. As many of the children at the party played a variety of beach games, including Zohaib’s two brothers, his father Mubashir “Mobie” Mohammad noticed Zohaib was not with the other children.

Mobie, who works at the Forestdale Shell gas station, began pacing the shoreline and told several parents he couldn’t find Zohaib. Because of all the children at the party, Mobie previously placed Zohaib in a white shirt so he could pick him out of the crowd of partygoers.

Zohaib Malik-Mohammad, 5, is in a medically induced coma at Boston Children’s Hospital, said family friend Christine Petricca Ross. [Photo courtesy of Christine Petricca Ross]

“He was watching him really closely and lost track of him for one second. I could feel his fear,” Ross said.

Immediately upon hearing that Zohaib couldn’t be found, parents at the party sprung into action – first clearing the pond, executing a head count, and then searching the water for Zohaib.

Swimming accident happened at birthday party

“There were probably about 10 of us moms that all spread out — arms length apart and started combing the water,” she said. “Myself and another mom swam out to the buoys in case he got that far.”

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Because many of the parents were members of the Coast Guard, or were health care workers, Ross said they followed professional safety procedures to find the young boy. After several minutes of searching, a woman saw the white shirt, and pulled Zohaib out of hip-level water. Although he did have a pulse, he was not conscious.

Zohaib Malik-Mohammad was at a birthday party at Snake Pond when he went missing. [Photo courtesy of Christine Petricca Ross]

Zohaib Malik-Mohammad was at a birthday party at Snake Pond when he went missing. [Photo courtesy of Christine Petricca Ross]

“We were probably doing CPR for about 10 minutes before the EMTs took over,” Ross said. “The rescue efforts could not have gone better. It gave him the best chance possible of survival.”

Sandwich Police Department declined comment in regards to the swimming accident.

Vigil held, funds raised for family

As Zohaib continues to fight for his life, Ross initiated a Go Fund Me, and a meal train for community members who wish to help the family. Donors can also purchase gift cards to provide to the family.

Ross also organized a vigil which Wednesday within the outdoor classroom at Forestdale School. While Mobie and Zohaib’s mother Abide Malik-Mohammad haven’t left Zohaib’s side since the accident, his grandmother and two brothers attended the vigil and were joined by a few hundred community members.

Throughout the evening, thoughts, prayers, songs and stories, were shared for the family, Ross said. Because the Malik-Mohammad family is originally from Pakistan, leaders from the Pakistani community also came and shared prayers.

“The vigil was really helpful. It was meant to show Zohaib’s family that they are surrounded by a whole community that just adores them,” Ross said. “It also gave us an opportunity to come together to pray and support each other.”

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Chris Dintino, principal of Forestdale School helped organize the vigil and said the gathering was a great show of support.

“Unfortunately, it took an incident like this to see how the community can come together and take this family under our wings,” he said. “I’m so proud of our community.”

State Rep. Steven Xiarhos also attended the vigil and engaged with Zohaib’s brothers – giving them quick rides on his Harley. Since Sunday, Xiarhos said he’s been in contact with the Malik-Mohammad family to offer support. Xiarhos’ own son Nicholas Xiarhos was a marine serving in Southern Afghanistan, and died in combat in 2009.

“A tragedy can be so painful but there’s also beauty when a community comes together,” Xiarhos said. “I lived it when I lost my own son years ago. It was the community that came together and saved our family.”

Counseling offered for those at accident

In addition to showing support at the vigil, Dintino also set up counseling services Monday to support the children and adults who were present during the accident on Sunday.

“I wanted to target those families that were there and the kids there that saw what happened,” he said. “For a 6- or 7-year-old child, as well as the adults present, this will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

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While most of the children were distracted by the beach games during the party, Ross said there were some children who witnessed the incident.

“The group (of children) that were in the waster swimming probably saw the most and they were struggling to process it all,” Ross said. “Mr. D opened up the school so we could see counselors and a lot of us took advantage of that. it was really really nice.”

While services won’t be ongoing at the school throughout the summer, Dintino said families can email him ([email protected]) if they need further counseling.

For Ross, it’s time for the Sandwich community and beyond to give back to the Malik-Mohammad family in their time of need. She said Mobie, in particular has been indispensable to community members during hard times. As a worker at the gas station, she said he has opened the store during storms and power outages just to make sure people could access basic needs. He’s also been kind to those close to Ross who experienced early onset Alzheimer’s — going as far as to collect funds for local

Alzheimer’s organizations at the gas station.

“We need to be there for them like they have been there for us,” she said. ” It’s so important to show up for this family.”

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Xiarhos also encourages communities across Cape Cod to pray for the Malik-Mohammad family.

“Everyone is praying for a young boy who most of us have never met. it’s very special. Very powerful,” he said. “I have a good feeling that this could be one of those miracles.”

Dintino agreed and said Zohaib and the entire Malik-Mohammad family will need support to walk the long road ahead.

“He’s not out of the woods,” he said. “But I’m praying and hoping I can run the red carpet out for him in September and he can walk through my building and start kindergarten. I’m hoping that can happen. And I’m going to plan for it.”

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Sandwich 5-year-old fights for his life after swimming accident

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