Lifeguard protocol called into question following 6-year-old’s drowning death
Author: Alana Cerrone, abc6.com
Angel Soares can’t shake the feeling she had when she says she pulled 6-year-old Jamir Stewart’s body out of the water at City Park Beach in Warwick Sunday.
“I went down and felt…and I felt his leg. I grabbed his body and ran as quick as I could.”
She says it’s more than heartbreak for the boy’s mom, aunts, and other family members who frantically searched the beach looking for him.
She’s frustrated with the two city-employed lifeguards.
“I said we need to get in the water there’s too many people on this beach we need to get in the water…at that point they weren’t helping.”
Soares says lifeguards and first responders searched the playground area before getting in the water.
In a press conference, Mayor Scott Avedisian and city officials say that was because they weren’t told where the child was last seen.
“The first part of the protocol would be to assess where the child was last seen…since that was unknown it meant we were looking at all sorts of venues in City Park.”
But Soares says the family made it clear to lifeguards.
“They said he’s in that water we need to get in that water and no one went in that water…our arms were spread far and we started toeing the water.”
During this human chain the boy’s body was found in about 3 foot deep water.
Chief of Police Colonel Stephen McCartney says while crews were giving the boy CPR, tensions got high.
“I hesitate to use the word but there were threats being made against city employees…I am concerned about some of our employees safety at this point…maybe some of this was a product of that emotion I don’t know at this point.”
The two on-duty lifeguards were college students who have been on the job for 2 and 3 years. They were given other responsibilities pending this investigation.
The beach remained open with different lifeguards Monday.