Connecticut Man Drowns In Public Swimming Pond

Date: Date of Incident: July 17, 1999

On Saturday, July 17, 1999, at approximately 5:20 p.m., John Doe, along with Melvin Smith and Mr. Smith’s three (3) grandchildren went to the municipal pond to swim.

Prior to 6:00 p.m., Melvin Smith approached two female Lifeguards sitting together in an elevated lifeguard stand and explained that he could not find Mr. Doe. The two lifeguards used a megaphone to page Mr. Doe but received no response in return.

Mr. Smith then approached the male lifeguard and asked him to call Mr. Doe out of the water. That lifeguard then used his megaphone and attempted to page Mr. Doe, but with no response.

At approximately 7:00 PM, Mr. Smith again approached the male lifeguard and stated he still had not located Mr. Doe. That lifeguard then entered the water with a mask and snorkel in an attempt to search and rescue Mr. Doe. Within several minutes, the lifeguard located Mr. Doe within the designated swimming area, in approximately 10 – 12 feet of water, approximately 36 yards from shore. The lifeguard then pulled Mr. Doe to shore and initiated CPR resuscitation efforts along with a city Police Officer.

The City Fire Department and Ambulance personnel responded and took over the resuscitation efforts of Mr. Doe. The Ambulance then transported Mr. Doe to the nearest trauma center with CPR continued enroute. 22-year-old John Doe was pronounced dead by hospital personnel at 7:58 p.m.

The following are some of the deficiencies identified in the performance of the lifeguard team during this incident:

1. The City failed to establish and implement Standard Operating Procedures.
2. The City failed to establish and implement Emergency Response Plans.
3. The City failed to qualify lifeguard personnel by providing site-specific pre-service and continuous in-service training for their personnel.
4. The City failed to conduct Emergency Response Drills for lifeguard personnel.
5. The City failed to distinguish between a missing person and a missing bather report and failed to respond appropriately.
6. The City lifeguards failed to respond quickly and appropriately upon notification of a missing bather.
7. The City failed to require Waterfront Lifeguard certification for all lifeguard personnel, and only hired lifeguard personnel with swimming pool Lifeguard certifications.
8. The City failed to provide Waterfront Lifeguard training for all lifeguard personnel.
9. The City lifeguards failed to assess a missing person or bather inquiry as a potential emergency situation.
10. The City failed to develop, implement, and administer appropriate surveillance protocols for lifeguard personnel.
11. The City failed to administer prerequisite skills tests for lifeguard candidates and failed to assess their swimming and rescue skills prior to hiring them as lifeguards.
12. The City lifeguards failed to initiate an in-water search and rescue operation once they were notified of a missing bather.

Print Article