Near drowning at aquatic center sparks safety review

Photo by Janelle Patterson The Marietta Aquatic Center fills up again Monday in the 89-degree heat, following a near drowning at the pool Sunday.

A trip to swim with her family at the Marietta Aquatic Center led to a local nurse saving the life of another child on Sunday.

“I just thank God,” said Alethea Bateman, 36, of Parkersburg, on Monday, as she recalled the incident and again pictured the 5-year-old child from Parkersburg blue from the waist up at the edge of the pool. “I had just gotten there with my four children and had gotten sunscreen on them when my daughter said, ‘Mom, that kid is blue,’ and I stood up and he was just laying there.”

Bateman, an acute care nurse for Camden Clark, immediately took action, administering two rounds of CPR and checking the boy’s pulse until he began coughing.

“Thankfully there was that nurse there,” said Marietta Assistant Safety-Service Director Bill Dauber, noting the incident report for the near-drowning at the Marietta Aquatic Center has been filed. “Of course, Marietta Fire Department responded soon, and the boy was taken to Akron after he was revived and is being kept under observation.”

Dauber said the Marietta Police Department has a detective assigned to investigate the incident further, though Capt. Aaron Nedeff said no criminal activity is suspected at this time. The department did not release the name of the child.

“There are cameras, but not on where the boy was found,” explained Dauber. “And there are 15 lifeguards there, but they rotate between different areas.”

Pool Manager Stephanie Greene said Monday her staff was shaken by the event, and were remaining extra vigilant Monday when the pool reopened after noon.

“This put things in perspective for them, that this really can happen,” she said. “We had a debrief after and talked through what could be done better, we’ve changed some of the chairs around and they’re not relaxed.”

But Bateman said she remains concerned about the safety of children at the pool.

“This little boy had no floaties on,” she said, noting the boy was face-up near a shallow portion of the pool between the mushroom wading area and the slide. “And the lifeguard just froze, after they said they had just had an in-service but hopefully they’ll have another after this–they need to be more prepared.”

Bateman noted the area where the boy was found would have been shallow enough for the child to stand.

“Yesterday was just really eye-opening, that anything could happen,” she added. “And the poor babysitter just looked lost in the wind by the whole thing. I just want to give that little boy a hug though. God was there for him.”

Greene said the lifeguard team always has a minimum of 15 staff on duty, but also encouraged parents to keep a diligent eye.

“We can’t force you to wear floaties or the rings, but please keep a close eye,” she said.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

Safety Precautions:

• If your child is a beginning swimmer, use life jackets around all bodies of water.

• Stronger swimmers should use life jackets around natural bodies of water like lakes, beaches and rivers.

• Remember: water wings, noodles, inner tubes and other floating toys are not designed to be used as safety devices.

• Learn CPR to be prepared for emergencies around the pool and in many different situations.

Source: Washington County Family and Children First, Help Me Grow.