Boy, 7, nearly drowns at Wirth Lake - KMSP-TV

PARENT WARNING: Wirth Lake drowning incident serves as cautionary tale

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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (KMSP) -

A 7-year-old boy is now being treated at the hospital after nearly drowning in Wirth Lake in Golden Valley, Minn. on Friday, but some witnesses are questioning the role his parents and the lifeguards played at the beach.

Keylen Thorton is being treated at Children's Hospital but his condition has not been released.

Beach goers Bobbie McGee and Brenda Betts weren't prepared for their summer day at Theodore Wirth Park to evolve into a desperate search for the boy around 2 p.m.

"She realized the 7-year-old was not with them," Betts said.

"She's saying, ‘I can't find my grandson, I can't find my grandson."

As lifeguards and worried on lookers searched the area, witnesses say swimmers nearby found him floating in the water between this dock and ladder. McGee speculates he was submerged for 10 minutes.

Witnesses say an unidentified young man began CPR on the unconscious boy upon his discovery, but he was shortly transported to the hospital for further treatment.

"One young man striped down his clothes and jumped in, pulled him up, and handed him to the kids that were on the platform," Betts said.

But the boy was unconscious.

Hennepin County sheriff's officials say rescue crews eventually arrived and transported Thorton to the hospital, but McGee and Betts are wondering how he got away from his grandmother who was also watching three other kids.

"When you have children with you, you can't let them out of your sight," McGee said.

But what also concerns the women is the response by the two lifeguards on duty and their alleged lack of promptness.

"They went back in the building and they went back and fourth and I was going, what is going on?" Betts said.

"Had they walked that perimeter, to over here, they would have found the little boy, and time was of the essence," according to McGee.

Both women say a third lifeguard eventually came to help and searched the water.

The lifeguards were not on duty Saturday and were unavailable for comment about the incident.

FOX 9 contacted the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and a spokesperson said the lifeguards followed protocol by calling for help, clearing the beach, and starting the search.

"Lifeguards are not the first line of defense, parents are," Stefan Rosenkoetter of Foss Swimming School said. He thinks parents need to accept this reality.

"Lifeguards are there for supplemental support; they are there to watch the whole beach," he said.

The deepest part of Wirth Lake extends about four to five feet. Another young boy drowned in the lake last year – he was just 6 years old and was pronounced dead at the hospital after being pulled from about four feet of water not far from shore.

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