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Boy, 7, drowns in pool at Austintown school



Published: Wed, August 4, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Elise Franco

By Elise Franco

efranco@vindy.com

Austintown

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.”


Comments

11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 4 years ago

Very sad. Someone should be fired for this.

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2Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years ago

Sad

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3concerned(173 comments)posted 4 years ago

Both the boys who drowned, the 7 year old at Leonard Kurtz and the 15 year old in Pittsburgh had autism.

Too bad the Vindy didn't mention that- sadly lots of kids with autism wander away and drown.

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4buzdrop2(2 comments)posted 4 years ago

This is horrible--why wasn't the doors locked, don't they have a cover for the pool, and where were the lifeguards???!!! Autistic or not somebody dropped the ball here and now a boy's life is over! My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the little boy!!

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5starofesther(168 comments)posted 4 years ago

There is no RIP those who say that think when your dead ...it's over but it's Not...

Not only a lifeguard but life preservers...

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6concerned(173 comments)posted 4 years ago

I think this boy was only enrolled in the summer program and maybe the staff wasn't as familiar with his abilities as they should have been. Many children with autism possess "houdini" like abilities. They can slip away in an instance and tragedy can follow. Prayers to the family and the staff who have this on their conscience.

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7ladiesrule(17 comments)posted 4 years ago

What a terrible, terrible accident. But it is an accident, any Mother knows it only takes a second for a child to be gone, let alone a child with autism. My thoughts and prayers to all who have suffered in the loss of this little boy.

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8starlite(3 comments)posted 4 years ago

Yes, an accident, but a preventable one. Doors should've been locked, pool alarms should've been installed. These are individuals that were professionally trained to watched disabled children, how could they have let one "slip away"!?!? Nothing will ease the pain this family will endure the rest of their lives, and I think the staff is liable. If they had too many children per instructor ratio, that should've been addressed. Of course no one would wish this on anyone, and the instructors will be guilt ridden, but nothing will bring that boy back. They were responsible for his well being just as any care giving facility is, especially one KNOWN for watching the disabled. I'm outraged anyone would think this is excusable.

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9nojimbo(223 comments)posted 4 years ago

I agree with starlite's comments. A terrible tragedy and the work now is to investigate in detail to prevent another. Is this one person's horrible mistake or more a failure of administration? Key question to me would be staffing and training. Was the staff person involved alone with a number of kids or were there two sets of eyes for more safety? What is the pay and what are the qualifications for the job? Training also is important but even the best training won't prevent a tragedy if one person has to care for a large number of children who may wander.

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10Asil43(3 comments)posted 4 years ago

So sorry for your loss. My heart and prayers go out to the parents and the staff. No one should have to lose a child.

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11pat53(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

I work with mentally and phsically challanged children and adults I know first hand Autistic people can escape like houdini!, I see it every day! Iam not blamming the child either, Fact is we dont know the whole story and the media isnt gonna give you it either, I know everything said on here is already running thru this family's mind, All involved I'am sure are very distraut, even those that were watching him, I know how I would be if it was me!

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12buzdrop2(2 comments)posted 4 years ago

pat53 i also work with children and adults with disabilities and the staff will be distraut but if u can't handle 3 kids and one is known for running then maybe one shouldn't be working with the children. they have needs that some people just aren't prepared for and don't they usually use young people to work these programs who probably have no experience??!! I am sorry but someone should have been doing their job and time will show they obviously wasn't!! This poor family and that is what is important right now!

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13pat53(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

I havent heard anything about the person being in charge of 3 children,And one being known for running. All I really know is this coulda happened to anyone even a child that is so called "normal",My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people involved. And to the person who metioned money Iam sure Buzdrop can agree with me on this, This job is not for everyone one The money isnt great its a job that comes from the heart!! And all in our profession has felt this loss! And if this person was watching 3 children we dont know if this person was occupied with one of them, We dont know the cercumstances surrounding how this all happened!

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14neuro1(6 comments)posted 4 years ago

I AM THE MOTHER OF ONE OF THIS YOUNG BOYS CLASSMATES, AND LIKE HIM, SHE IS A WANDERER. I HAVE BEEN SICK FOR DAYS NOW THINKING ABOUT THIS BOY AND HIS FAMILY. I AM FILLED WITH SADNESS AND ANGER. HAD I KNOWN THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT SUMMER CAMP THIS YEAR, I WOULD HAVE NEVER EVER PUT HER ON THAT BUS EVERYDAY AND PUT HER LIFE IN JEOPARDY. THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT THE STAFFING THIS SUMMER WAS HORRIBLE. THEIR STATEMENTS ABOUT THEM BEING FULLY STAFFED AND ABLE TO CARE FOR THESE KIDS IS FALSE! SHE HAS BEEN GOING THERE FOR 3 YEARS FOR SUMMER CAMP AND THERE HAD ALWAYS BEEN A MAX OF 7 KIDS TO A GROUP WITH AT LEAST 3 ADULTS. THIS YEAR THEY HAD ANYWHERE FROM 13 TO 14 KIDS IN A GROUP WITH THE SAME AMOUNT OF ADULTS. THIS IS NEGLECT!! AS A MOTHER OF A DISABLED CHILD, I CAN TELL YOU THAT I HAVE TO KEEP MY EYE ON HER EVERY SINGLE SECOND AT HOME. FOR THEM TO THINK IT WAS ACCEPTABLE OR SAFE TO HAVE A 1:5 RATIO IS RIDICULOUS. ALSO, TO CLARIFY ANOTHER POINT, THIS PROGRAM HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LEONARD KIRTZ SCHOOL. IT IS RUN BY THE COUNTY, AND STAFFED BY THE COUNTY. I HAVE NOTHING BUT PRAISES TO GIVE TO THE STAFF AT THE LEONARD KIRTZ SCHOOL PROGRAM AND PEOPLE SHOULD NOT CONFUSE THE DIFFERENCE OF THE TWO. ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT THIS HAS HIT REALLY CLOSE TO HOME. MY DAUGHTER AND THIS YOUNG BOY WERE USUALLY STUCK LIKE GLUE AND SHE COULD HAVE EASILY WENT TO FOLLOW HER BUDDY THAT DAY. I HATE TO SAY IT, BUT I THINK A BIG CONTRIBUTING FACTOR TO THIS WHOLE TRAGEDY WAS THE USUAL...MONEY. LET'S SEE HOW MANY KIDS WE CAN CRAM INTO A GROUP AND TRY TO PAY THE LEAST AMOUNT OF PEOPLE TO WATCH THEM. THIS SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED. REST IN PEACE SWEET NATHAN. WE LOVE YOU.

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15starlite(3 comments)posted 4 years ago

Neuro1 is right, there's no distinction in the article that the summer camp isn't run by Leonard Kritz School, I assumed it was. I just can't get beyond the fact that he was able to access the pool at all. I'm so sick with grief for this family. Any parents worst nightmare... one that will never end.

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16starlite(3 comments)posted 4 years ago

Just read article again, it is stated. I'm just too emotional about this incident to think straight. Never should've happened.

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17pat53(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

It is not the county that runs it they provide the the building and the transportation, Thats it!!

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18neuro1(6 comments)posted 4 years ago

IT MOST CERTAINLY IS THE COUNTY THAT RUNS IT. FOR YOUR CHILD TO ATTEND, YOU MUST GO THROUGH THE MAHONING COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICE CENTER, FILL OUT AN APPLICATION, WAIT TO GET ACCEPTED, AND PAYMENT GOES DIRECTLY TO MCESC. MAHONING COUNTY USES LEONARD KIRTZ AS THE "SITE" FOR THE SUMMER CAMP, THAT'S IT. THUS, IT IS CALLED THE MAHONING COUNTY SUMMER ENRICHEMENT PROGRAM. AS I STATED BEFORE, MY CHILD GOES TO LEONARD KIRTZ DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR AND SHE ATTENDS THE SUMMER PROGRAM. THEY ARE NOT ONE IN THE SAME!!

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19neuro1(6 comments)posted 4 years ago

Maybe everyone is just not getting it. The teachers and administration at Leonard Kirtz School during the school year, is NOT the same staff that is hired in for the county summer program. They have nothing to do with each other. If they did, i could almost bet my life that this would have never happened and that's a fact. They really did a poor job hiring and staffing the program this year. Also, my husband walked right in there yesterday to retreive my daughters belongings, and no one asked for his identification when he entered that building. That would have NEVER happened during the school year. In light of everything that just happened, he could have been any nutcase off the street coming in to do who knows what. Again, no excuses. I am very disappointed in who they chose to care for our children and the lack of simple common sense in the staffing issue.

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20pat53(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

The above comment is what I ment the mcbdd is what I was refering to they are not the same as the educatiional program known as summer camp

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21mamaknowstoo(3 comments)posted 4 years ago

“What does common sense tell you?” Holmes said. “You have to watch your children.”
I have a child with severe autism and I WATCH my child like a hawk. These parents TRUSTED these peope to watch their child with autism like he was their own. Common sense? The parents trusted the wrong people with "common sense". Holmes, I don't know who you are and I hope I never come face to face with you because you will get a serious "butt reaming" from me. How ignorant can you be making that sort of comment? Watch my child??? That's what I do 100% 24/7 buddy. That's EXTREMELY disrespectful to these parents and parents of children with special needs. You're a real jerk.

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22neuro1(6 comments)posted 4 years ago

I agree with mamaknowstoo, we do watch our children like hawks. It's a non-stop job. In fact, we have to have eyes in back of our head. As I said before, I would have NEVER sent my daughter this year had I known of the quality and quantity of the staffing. I put her on that bus every morning and TRUSTED that these people would care for her as I did. I was really mistaken. There is NO WAY that a few adults can keep track of 13 disabled children. I am still so angry about this whole situation. There are two thoughts that go through my head every single day. First... he should have NEVER got out of that room in the first place. Second...They have an electronic cover for that pool that is suppose to be on at ALL times when the pool is not in use...and it was not. So the bottom line is, if all other precautions failed as they did (he got out of the room, he got into a faulty locked door) if the cover was on, it would have saved his life. WHY WAS THE COVER NOT ON??? It absolutely sickens me. The whole thing screams laziness, neglect, and carelessness. And to Holmes, we do watch our kids. It's the people that they hired and we were suppose to trust that DIDN'T.

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