3-year-old boy dies after falling into backyard pool in Paso Robles

Three-year-old Justin Vargas-Smith drowned after falling into a backyard pool in Paso Robles.
Three-year-old Justin Vargas-Smith drowned after falling into a backyard pool in Paso Robles. Courtesy photo

Family members and friends are mourning a 3-year-old North County boy who died last weekend after falling into a backyard swimming pool.

Justin Vargas-Smith was apparently playing near the above-ground pool when he fell in, according to family friend Bill Martin of Paso Robles. The toddler, the only child of Brittany Vargas of Templeton and Justin Smith of Bakersfield, had just turned 3 in April.

“It was just a nightmare,” Martin said. “It’s terrible.”

According to the Paso Robles Police Department, the incident occurred Saturday afternoon at a residence in the 100 block of Vine Street.

Martin said he and his relatives had just returned home from a local park, where they’d been celebrating a family member’s birthday. After unloading the car, Martin went to the garage to play drums, while his wife’s two sons, followed by Justin, went outside to play.

About 10 minutes later, Brittany Vargas came out to the garage in search of her son, Martin said, only to find him under the solar cover of the pool.

“It was chaos from then on,” said Martin, who started to perform CPR on Justin with his father’s help.

Paramedics arrived around 4:50 p.m., police said, and took the boy to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton. Justin was then taken by helicopter to Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera, where doctors pronounced him dead at 7:47 p.m. Sunday, according to his aunt, Christine Vargas of Paso Robles.

Although the investigation into the toddler’s death remains open, police Lt. Tim Murphy said it appears to be a “tragic accident.”

Martin described Justin as a friendly, funny young boy.

“He was always smiling and playing,” Martin said of the boy, who liked Spider-Man and fire trucks.

A memorial service for Justin will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at the home of Christine Vargas, 1217 Echo Court in Paso Robles. For more information, call Bill Martin at 296-4006 or Christine Vargas at 423-5227.