Investigation Continues After Boy Found At Pool's Bottom - KMSP-TV

Investigation Continues After Boy Found At Pool's Bottom

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PHILADELPHIA -

The search for answers continues as to how a 7-year-old-boy nearly drowned this week in a Philadelphia public pool.

There were four life guards on duty and three to four counselors from the summer camp looking after the kids.

But they all managed to miss the child until it was almost too late.

FOX 29 has learned the 7-year-old clutching-to-life Friday night was not wearing a flotation device because the support group that brought him to the pool can't afford it.

Meanwhile, a police investigation is ongoing.

It was a blazing hot Friday. But instead of city kids bobbing in the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center pool, a cop pulled the gate shut, and lifeguards handled police tape.

Meanwhile, a 7-year-old, pulled from the bottom of the pool Thursday, clings to life.

"Was that 7-year-old wearing any kind of flotation device?" FOX 29's Jeff Cole asked.

"No, he wasn't wearing any flotation device because we do not have any devices here that meet the requirements of the public pools," answered Gloria Guard, who heads "Families Forward," a $4-million non-profit that is largely publicly funded and supports 150 homeless families in the city, including running a summer camp.

The 7-year-old boy was with 24 other kids in that camp and six camp staff. Three to four were in the water, Guard says, when the boy slipped under and was seen by the camp's director about 5 feet down.

A camp worker pulled him up.

"Were the lifeguards nearby?" Cole asked.

"As I understand it, the lifeguards had to be summoned," Guard said.

A city lifeguard performed CPR and the child was rushed to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia's First Deputy Recreation Commissioner says the Department's 1 lifeguard to 30 children ration was met during Thursday's incident.

Pool incidents have cost Philadelphia dearly.

A city document obtained by FOX 29 shows Philadelphia has paid out nearly $700,000 in settlements for six drownings from 2008 to the first four months of this year.

Guard, of Families First, says her agency can't afford to provide children with the U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices required in city pools.

She wouldn't answer when asked if camp or city staff were specifically assigned to watch children, like the 7-year-old, who couldn't swim.

She did say the kids who saw the tragic event are being counseled.

"You really just have to keep the door open to be able to talk with them, and you want to keep an eye on making sure the child's not getting too depressed or too anxious," therapist Dorothy Thomas said.

FOX 29 has learned the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has also opened a probe of the incident and had investigators in the city Friday. DPW licenses social service agencies, Cole reported.

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