Boy, 7, drowns in pool at Austintown school

By Elise Franco

By Elise Franco


The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office will continue to investigate the drowning of a 7-year-old boy during a summer camp at Leonard Kirtz School.

The child, whose name hasn’t been released by police, was pronounced dead about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, said Austintown Detective Sgt. Ray Holmes.

Holmes said the boy was attending a summer program at the school on Woodridge Drive in Austintown and wandered away from the group he was with.

The program is run by the Mahoning County Board of Education and the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the detective said.

“He was probably missing less than five minutes before they noticed he was missing,” Holmes said. “[A group leader] said she turned around for one minute, and he was gone.”

A school employee found the boy in the pool a short time later. Holmes said the pool is indoors on the school’s campus, and it’s not yet known how the child gained access.

He said the drowning was an accident, but adults need to pay close attention to young children .

“What does common sense tell you?” Holmes said. “You have to watch your children.”

The coroner’s office is handling the investigation.

The 7-year-old is the third drowning death in the region in three days.

On Sunday, 51-year-old Susan Hernan, of Youngstown, drowned in Berlin Lake in Berlin Center where she was with her two grandchildren, age 6 and 8.

Mahoning County deputy sheriffs patrolling the area heard calls for help and found Hernan unresponsive in the water. Deputies said both children were in the water in distress when they arrived at the scene.

Brandin Norris, 15, of Farrell, drowned Monday evening in the Shenango River in Sharon, Pa., while swimming with friends. Sharon fire personnel said Norris likely was pulled under by a strong current. His body was found after a more than three-hour search of the water.

Beth Scheller, associate branch director for the Youngstown YMCA, said it’s important to practice safety near water.

Neither the lake nor the river has lifeguards on duty.

“It’s very important to only swim with the supervision of a trained, certified lifeguard,” she said.

Scheller said swimming in a lake, river or public pool that has no professional supervision is a bad idea.

“Even if you know how to swim, you’re probably unfamiliar with that water,” she said. “The current and bottom conditions could be dangerous, and people sometimes overestimate their abilities.”

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