We are officially responding to a story that was released by Jory Rand of KABC 7 news on August 31st, 2017 in regards to a drowning that occurred in Murrieta, California. Although this happened a year ago and did receive lots of media attention, a newly released video tells the whole story and we would like to address the video.
The video and story can be found here: http://abc7.com/murrieta-family-sues-school-district-over-sons-2016-drowning/2360625/
As we watched the video, we were left speechless needless to say! Actually our senior staff were pissed and a huge discussion was initiated to evaluate the drowning. Golden State Lifeguards is dedicated to drowning prevention but at times called on to testify against negligent lifeguards and aquatics directors. This would have been one of those cases. Pretty black and white!
In the video one can clearly see the 13 year old boy, Alex Pierce struggling to stay afloat and to keep his head above water. This all happened at an end of year pool party for the Murrieta Middle School Band and Choir. The video clearly shows Alex trying to get someones attention by waving his arm. For minutes he struggles and yet no one, not even lifeguards noticed!
Alex was underwater for two minutes before a classmate found him and pulled him to the surface. Let us be clear, it was classmates and not lifeguards that pulled him out! What is more disturbing is that Alex’s lifeless body was dragged around the water for some time before being pulled out. He was in the water for about 9 to 10 minutes before CPR was finally initiated by Murrieta Fire Dept. Paramedics. It takes 4 to 6 minutes without CPR before irreversible death occurs meaning at that point there would be major brain damage due to lack of oxygen.
Alex died days later, tragically! This drowning was preventable!
Now let’s examine this. The first thing is to take a look at the school’s dive and swim coach, Keith Good is supposedly a trained lifeguard and CPR instructor. Something does not add up because of what transpired before, during and after the drowning. The video does not lie! We have been unable to confirm that Mr. Good is actually a certified lifeguard with American Red Cross.
According to the article, the family is suing the school and Keith Good however it is our opinion that Mr. Good and the lifeguards should be held criminally negligent in the boy’s death. Mr. Good should have been there to initiate the pool emergency action plan (EAP) and should have been there to assist in the rescue of the boy. We feel their attorney, Robert Glassman has a good case against the school and Mr. Good.
The video is quite disturbing because nowhere in frame can you see lifeguards on the side of the drowning. Where was the lifeguard? As we watched we noticed one lifeguard on the far side of the pool. Possibly one on the right side of the frame in a chair. We then see a lifeguard walking very casually with no sense of real urgency. The next question is why did the lifeguard not jump into the pool and take over to pull Alex out of the water quickly? That is so disturbing! The next portion of the video is we see lifeguards on the far right side of the pool dragging Alex around, failing to pull him out immediately and administer CPR. Where was the supposed coach? No where to be found!
It is obvious that lifeguards were not paying attention and we counted about 29 kids in the pool at one time which is extremely manageable for 2 or three lifeguards. Lifeguards should have spotted the telltale signs of a swimmer in distress who was actively drowning. Their complete oversight was in our opinion a contributing factor to Alex’s death.
This scenario is playing out far too much all over the United States. Often times lifeguards are simply too young and ill-trained to perform the job as a lifeguard. There have been instances where lifeguards did not know how to perform CPR and actually called 911 instead of doing their job. Some young lifeguards have even said that they did not want to perform CPR because “it is gross”. Really!!
We are strong advocates of a National Registry of Lifeguards similar to the National Registry of EMT’s (www.nremt.org). We would like to see lifeguard training regulated and intensified to ensure competency all across the United States.
Here are links to other stories of similar lifeguard failures:
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