Karen Gabrielsen of Holbrook drowns in backyard pool, say cops

Suffolk County police respond to a home on

Suffolk County police respond to a home on Railroad Avenue in Holbrook where a woman was found unresponsive in her backyard pool on Saturday, July 19, 2014. Photo Credit: Christopher Sabella

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The owner of a Holbrook pet grooming business drowned Saturday night in her backyard pool, police said Sunday, and relatives described how her teenage son tried in vain to pull her from the water.

Karen Gabrielsen, 50, was found by the 13-year-old, family members said. She was discovered about 9:30 p.m. Saturday unconscious and not breathing in the pool at her Railroad Avenue home, police said, also the site of her business, Pretty Puppy.

Gabrielsen's son -- her only child, whom relatives declined to name -- attempted to pull his mother out of the pool, said Gabrielsen's sister-in-law Debi Gabrielsen.

"He couldn't get her out, so he called 911," she said, voice cracking. "She was such a generous, loving woman. . . . Her whole world was her son and his world was her."

Gabrielsen said the boy was still in shock. "He can't even talk. He's emotional," she said. "How does he recover from this?"

Suffolk County Fifth Precinct patrol officers, who are investigating the case, and the Holbrook Fire Department responded to the 911 call.

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Richard Stack, Holbrook fire chief, said Gabrielsen had been removed from the pool by the time he arrived at the scene and his rescue squad performed CPR on her on a deck.

Rescuers continued CPR en route to Brookhaven Memorial Medical Center in East Patchogue, Stack said.

Gabrielsen was pronounced dead at the hospital. Details on the pool were not immediately available.

Gabrielsen, born in Brooklyn and raised in Bay Shore, swam all her life, Debi Gabrielsen said.

"She was a very strong swimmer," she said. "We think she either had a heart attack or fell in and hit her head."

A week before Gabrielsen's drowning, former diamond seller Rajkumari Motwani, 55, of Rego Park, Queens, also described by relatives as a good swimmer, drowned in a Dix Hills backyard pool.

Gabrielsen had owned and operated Pretty Puppy since the early 1990s, records show. The grooming business catered to dogs and cats.

Gabrielsen also had her own pets: seven dogs, at least four cats, a parrot and three horses -- a Palomino, an Arabian-Morgan mix and an American Quarter Horse -- housed on her 3-acre property, said Debi Gabrielsen, adding her sister-in-law was active in animal rescue.

"She didn't want to see them be put to sleep if she could save them," she said. "This house is totally designed for pets."

Neighbor Ann Makuskie, who said she has known Karen Gabrielsen for 20 years, described her as having "a lot of heart," and as helping take care of animals and people in need.

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"When the Pine Barrens were on fire, she went out with her horse trailer to help transport horses to safety," Makuskie said. "She was the first person you'd call if you were in trouble. . . . She was such a wonderful person and [her death] was so tragic."

Family members had not settled funeral arrangements Sunday afternoon, but set up a page for donations to it at gofundme.com/gabrielsen.

Donations will also be used to care for Gabrielsen's son, family said.

Police said anyone with information about the drowning should call 631-854-8552.

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