by Duluth News Tribune
July 21, 2011 at 10:52 am in Duluth News Tribune
The Beach area has since been evacuated and is closed for the day. Continue Reading
Tags: cloquet, Duluth, recreation, updates 50 Comments »
My heart aches for this family! I have known them for many years and cannot imagine the heartache they are feeling.
Please, everyone give your children an extra big hug tonight!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 77 7
who dislikes a comment like that?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 38 7
I just returned from Wyatt’s Memorial Service and I have a request to send out to everyone willing.
There was a time set aside at the service for anyone who wanted to say something about Wyatt or share special memories about him and his family. One gentleman stood up and asked that each person attending the service today do something in memory of Wyatt. He asked that each and everyone of us do some random act of kindness for a total stranger or even someone we know. By doing this random act of kindness in memory of Wyatt, you would be keeping the memory of Wyatt alive and the family would be able to think….”somewhere, someone is doing something special for someone in memory of our son, Wyatt.”
So, I would ask everyone reading this…if you could do the same in memory of Wyatt, imagine all of the acts of kindness spreading around and the lives that will be touched by one little boy! We only have so much time in this world…let’s make it something special. Something that will make Wyatt smile as he looks down at us from Heaven.
Like or Dislike: 1 0
Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.
This is a tragedy. I cannot imagine the pain that his parents are in, and am so sorry for their loss.
I wonder how long it’ll take until the public is made aware of the entity that was responsible for his safety at Pinehurst Park. It’s an extremely upsetting incident (for lack of better term), particularly because the majority of Duluth parents allow this entity to care for their children.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 10 31
He was with Kids Connection, a child care service through the Public School System for school age children. Just an absolutely horrible tragic accident.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 25 2
This just has me sick. I keep thinking this and I guess I’ll go ahead and say it, but 4 chaperones for 30 kids in a crowded city pool just isn’t enough. It was surely an accident, but seems like a very avoidable one. Children just shouldn’t drown in city pools, that doesn’t need to happen.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 37 2
It was estiamted that 260 people were in the pool.
If you remove the 30 from the Kid Connection program, that leaves 4 Lifeguards for 230. How is THAT enough? ?
Hot debate. What do you think? 21 9
Agreed Norie. Sounds like not enough lifeguards either. Sigh. Incredibly sad, and feel miserable thinking about this.
Like or Dislike: 11 11
My heart aches for this family. I couldn’t sleep last night after my husband told me of the incident, thinking of their pain and of how this easily could have been our family.
On 4th of July weekend we visited this same pool. There were at least 6-7 lifeguards on duty and as you can imagine lots of swimmers. I was in the pool with our toddler and four year old. Our four year old strayed into water too deep for him and I turned to see only is eyes just under the water’s surface. I left my toddler with my sister – (thank goodness I wasn’t alone), called for help (we were in the kiddie slide section so there were three lifeguards in that area – two actually standing in the pond), and ran through the water as fast as my over-weight middle aged body could take me and thankfully reached our boy in time. Not one lifeguard responded to my call for help or even noticed the incident. I yelled to one as I was hauling our sputtering son out of the water that a kid was drowning – she heard that – but still did not respond.
After I was sure our son was ok I went to the office to tell the supervisor what happened. I would be surprised if she was more than 19 years old. She nodded sympathetically and asked where the incident happened – but I seriously doubt she did anything beyond that.
I love this facility and I don’t want to add to the grief and feelings of guilt I imagine are being felt by the staff at the pool. However, my experience is that staff is very poorly supervised and seem to be poorly trained. They noticed my son when we was playing in the shallows with a contraband kick-board and made sure he stopped, but when he really needed help – nothing.
And yes – I know all about how parents are responsible for watching their kids. The thing is I paid money to bring my family to a pool where there would people trained to help me with that – and I received no help when I needed it.
I deeply regret that I did not take my complaints to someone with more authority to improve training and supervision at the pond. It may have made a difference for this little boy.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 28 12
I’m glad you posted your experiences with the Cloquet pool shorelines. I’ve never been there, but it’s hard to imagine how 4 lifeguards are enough, especially if they are high school or college kids. Same thing with the Kid Connection chaperones – these are usually college kids and they are nice enough, but are they really qualified to handle 30 kids in a pool?
These are questions the DNT should be asking and following up on. This is a tragic story and there are a lot of unanswered questions, and I would really hope/expect that the DNT digs in more than it has so far.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 22 6
Unbelievable!!! I seriously think some heads should roll if this is the case. Lives are at stake and voices (“Help”) apparently are not being heard!! I thank God that your little one is okay and hope policies change so there is not a repeat tragedy.
Like or Dislike: 7 4
My heart goes out to the family and friends of this little boy. I have a 4 year old and have taken him swimming at Pinehurst Pool, on occasion. I am also a former lifeguard, having worked at Pinehurst pool years ago. I have never had any safety concerns at the pool, still dislike the murky water. We really do not know all the details of the accident, at least I have not heard the details. I do not think it’s ok to blame anyone, at this point. What I can tell people from having worked there in the past, people tend to think that the lifeguards are babysitters. They are not. As a mother, I know that I am going to be right with my child and I know that there are too many kids in the pool for the lifeguards to see everything. These are things I look into before I take my child swimming, anywhere. If your child is a non-swimmer, even with a lifejacket on, we all know that there is a greater risk of drowning. If there have been issues raised about the quality of the lifeguarding, it’s tragic that those issues were not addressed. Personally, I have not had concerns.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 19 3
Very much agreed AT. The lifeguards were not and should not be viewed as the primary caretakers of this group of 30 children. That’s where the four chaperones come into play, and where some difficult questions need to be asked.
There is, unfortunately, some blame to be assigned. It should not be acceptable under any circumstances for a child to drown in a city pool or pond. That just shouldn’t happen, and it wasn’t the child’s fault. I think this group of 30 needed more chaperones, or maybe should not have even gone to the pool at all.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 18 3
I agree that it does not seem like there were enough chaperones, particularly if there are kids in the group that do not know how to swim. Really don’t enjoy adding to the guilt, some might be feeling, just a tragic ordeal.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 16 1
My guess is the group went to the pool with the number of chaperones that they did under the assumption that the lifeguards would help (not be totally responsible – but help) keep the children safe. I’m not saying they were right to make that assumption, I am just speculating that that may have been the line of thinking.
According to State licensing requirements https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/?id=9503.0040, the required staffing ratio for school age day care centers is one adult for every 15 children, with a maximum group size of 30. I was not able to find any special requirements for pool field trips, so as far as I can tell the group was well within licensing guidlines. Again – not saying this was necessarily adequate, just that the program seems to have been following the rules by double.
Like or Dislike: 16 5
Maybe the 1 adult to every 15 children needs to be looked at more closely. Or the 4 adults to every 30 children….especially on field trips involving swimming. Obviously Shoreline’s story shows that even 1 adult to 2 children could lead to a tragic situation. She was lucky enough to have her sister with her to stay with her younger child so she could go after her child that had strayed into deeper water. What would’ve happened if her sister had not been there? If you go after the one child that is drowning, what is to happen to the other child left on shore???
Like or Dislike: 9 3
AT, I will assume you were not including me among the majority of parents you estimate leave their children to be babysat at public pools – because, as I said, I was in the pool with my children when the incident I described happened.
Also, it was no my intent to assign blame to anyone. You are quite right that no one knows all the details of this tragedy. That is why I only wrote about my own experience and not the events at Pinehurst on 7/21/11.
My very deepest sympathies to the boy’s family.
Like or Dislike: 14 2
Just giving another side to the story, having worked there in the past. Don’t feel comfortable blaming anyone for the incident and do not know all the details. And no, I am not assuming you are one of those parents, but I have personally witnessed a number of incidences where the guardian or parent of a young child is not watching or even near the child(sad but true). Also have seen instances where a 5 or 6 year old sibling is left in charge of a younger sibling. I don’t know what the situation was with the 30 kids and 4 chaperones. Just another point of view. That’s all.
Like or Dislike: 12 2
I am sure you are aware from reading the article that this little boy’s parents were not there to watch their little boy. He was with his child care, a trusted community program, a program his parents trusted to take care of their child. However, 4 chaperones for 30 children did not prove sufficient enough.
Like or Dislike: 11 6
Heather. Seems like you are a nice person. I knew that the little boys parents were not there and he was with a group of 30 kids. I do not normally write on these things but am just sick over what happened to this little boy. I was actually addressing the views of another writer, as a former employee of that pool. And you are right, 4 chaperones for 30 children are not enough.
Like or Dislike: 10 5
Oh allright AT. Thank-you for clarifying. It is definitely agreed that 4 chaperones for 30 children is not enough!
Like or Dislike: 11 2
I’ve been thinking about your comment AT, and I just have to reiterate – there were at least three lifeguards within maybe 50-75 feet of where our son was struggling. I called for help. I was struggling through the water to get to him. I can understand that lifeguards can’t see everything – but if at least three of them missed all that, that suggests to me there just might be a problem.
Like or Dislike: 11 4
Accidents do happen. It is a sad and tragic story. My question Duluthian, him many paid employees are enough? 30? It is a public pool with 4 paid lifeguards. Haven’t you beat the small government drum, well I guess until a tragedy occurs.
It is far more dangerous for a child to ride his or her bike. Unfortunately sometimes these things happen.
My prayers. to the family.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 18 2
I’d question why you need to take a group of small children to a swimming pool at all. I agree, it might be too expensive to make it safe. If that’s the case, then maybe we find other things to do that aren’t so dangerous.
Like or Dislike: 7 8
BTW, “accidents happen” isn’t good enough in this case. This was very avoidable. Children on supervised field trips with a program run by the public schools should not die like this.
Like or Dislike: 16 7
Duluthian, If I could LIKE this 100 times, I would. Absolutely right, “children on supervised field trips with a program run by the public schools should not like like this.”
Like or Dislike: 12 1
I can’t tell from the picture. Does this pool have a separate wading area for the younger kids? Something shallow enough so they can simply stand up if they get in trouble?
Like or Dislike: 6 4
A thumbs down for asking about a separate wading area for younger kids? Wow. It’s a reasonable question folks. I’ve never been to this place and probably most others haven’t, so this kind of info would be good to know.
These are questions the DNT should be asking, btw. For as something as tragic as this, I really would expect a little more reporting.
A few other questions…
Was this in fact a Kid Connection group? That’s been said here and it makes sense, but the DNT hasn’t said.
If it was Kid Connection, from what school?
Does Kid Connection (or whatever group it was) plan to keep sending groups to swimming pools?
Was this a common sort of field trip?
Who were the 4 chaperones? They don’t need to be identified by name, but were they college students, life guards, parent volunteers, etc?
Something went terribly wrong here, and a child seems to have died needlessly. We need to think about whether or not this kind of field trip is even appropriate, and if it is, how we do them in a way that is absolutely safe.
Like or Dislike: 13 1
The pond is one continuous body of water and much of it is quite shallow. There are areas with a “natural” sand/gravel beach which gradually becomes deeper the farther you go out – just like a lake. There are also sections with walled boundries with the shore – some are very shallow – 1.5 feet deep and some are too deep for my 4 year old. These sections too gradually receed to deeper water. In addition there is a lap swimming area and the water adjacent to it that are significantly deeper than 5 feet. In these areas my 4’6″ ten-year-old can not touch the bottom by a long shot, but I’ve never ventured into them so I’m not sure if I could touch at 5’8″.
So, while there are many shallow areas for non-swimmers and very young children to play in there are no physical boundries between the shallow areas and the deep areas. Our son found it quite easy to stray from the area where he could touch bottom.
Like or Dislike: 7 3
That said – I see this facility as significantly safer than Duluth’s public swimming area – Park Point.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 15 0
Link to The Beach at Pinehurst web page. There I found that the deepest area is 6ft.
Like or Dislike: 9 4
Who gives a thumbs down to a post that does nothing but provide information in response to a question? I seriously dislike the thumbs up/down feature in this forum.
Like or Dislike: 10 7
I know, it’s really hard to figure. Are we supposed to just shrug our shoulders and not even think about this very tragic loss of life?
I appreciate the info though, and I am sure most people do. The more we know about this, the more likely we are to avoid similar tragedies in the future.
Like or Dislike: 7 1
This was in fact with the Kids Connection group as I know the family. However, I am not 100% sure which school it was with.
Your questions are great ones and definitely need to be answered to help prevent another tragedy such as this one. I am not sure where the blame lies, however the more information we know, the less likely this is to happen again.
Like or Dislike: 7 0
It was Kid Connection. Both Lowell and Macarthur locations were on that field trip. Wyatt was with Lowell.
Kid Connection has now cancelled all future swimming field trips for the remainder of the summer. And if they hadn’t, I don’t think any of the parents would have allowed their children to attend on those days. I know I wouldn’t have.
The chaperones were all staff members of Kid Connection. Some were college aged, some were adults with 20+ years experience providing child care.
What happened to Wyatt is extremely heartbreaking and disturbing. Yes, accidents happen, but I don’t consider this to be one of those cases. Quite clearly, he needed help and no one even noticed. That’s not an accident – that’s neglect. Plain and simple. And while I feel for the staff members, and know they must be feeling a tremendous amount of sadness – someone still must be held accountable. Where were they when little Wyatt needed them? How could they not even notice he was in trouble? And why is the news saying that he was taken out of the water with a life jacket, but my child says he wasn’t wearing one – and that they had to find him in the water?
Kid Connection has called in school social workers to help the children to understand and cope with what happened. They also passed out booklets to parents regarding helping children deal with grief, which were provided by St. Mary’s. The children are all pretty shaken up by this, as one could expect. I can’t even tell you how frightened I am, or how angry I am.
My child keeps asking questions, and has broken down a few times. Wyatt is the primary victim in this situation, but to a lesser extent, so are all of the other children who were there to see this tragedy, and who have now lost their friend.
Like or Dislike: 3 0
Al, thanks for sharing this. I am so sorry your child is having to live through the tragic loss of his/her friend.
I keep thinking about the poor little person who was Wyatt’s safety buddy. I hope he/she is getting lots of extra support.
Like or Dislike: 4 0
Thanks Al, this is important information you are sharing. I am stunned that the DNT isn’t following up on this (and that we need to learn of these things via reader comments). But, thanks for keeping us informed.
Very much agreed that this sounds like neglect. This just should not have happened – while accidental drowning does occur, typically it is in home pools that are unattended. Children drowning in a city pool just shouldn’t happened, especially not with a school group.
Kid Connection is right to cancel future swimming trips. No way should they be allowed to try this again.
This is a terrible tragedy, but it shouldn’t be written off as just an accident. As you rightly say, there was neglect here, and it’s important that it not be dismissed as just an accident.
Like or Dislike: 3 2
There was an editorial in today’s paper regarding Wyatt’s death, as well as the rip-tide incident at Park Point last week. It was kind of weak I thought – be careful, respect the water, ect. There was no hint that the discussion here had been read.
I’ve read a lot of good perspectives on this tragedy. It is ashame that it will take a tragedy like this to change things. By “things”, I mean that it is evident that maybe bringing 30 kids to a heavily populated public pool with only 4 chaperones was not a good idea. Maybe the pool needs to reevaluate it’s policies. Here is what I think is being missed. As adults, as guardians, etc., we are ultimately responsible for deciding whether are kids or group of kids goes on a certain activity. We are responsible for deciding if it is safe. We are responsible for them when they are at the facility, and we cannot rely on others to do it for us. Another poster “hints” at this. If you are uncomfortable with how that facility operates it is your responsibility as an adult to complain, and to follow up. If you find that that the facility is unsafe, don’t go!! We also need to become aware of the surroundings, especially at a pool. Tell the kids where it is safe to go and where it is not. Do not rely on others to do so. Unfortunately, accidents will still happen. Things that are unforeseen do happen, and honestly, in this case, no one wanted something as horrible as this to happen.
I agree CMT, in the end parents are ultimately responsible for the welfare of their children. But, this requires that we have very full and complete information available from care givers like Kid Connection and other school related programs, so that we can know if things are being run in a way that is safe. That’s why the reporting on this whole tragedy has thus far been very disappointing. Based on what we know so far, what does a parent with a child in Kid Connection do? Will there be additional swimming trips? What other activities are planned, and how well will they be supervised. In order to be responsible parents, we need information.
Like or Dislike: 6 3
And of course, parents with kids in Kid Connection or whatever program should contact them directly and not wait for the DNT or school district to inform them. But, those of us in the community as well have a vested interest in seeing that our children are protected, so we need to pay attention too.
Like or Dislike: 4 5
Yes – absolutely parents are responsible for their children’s safety. However, I get frustrated with the notion that parents are suppose to somehow be omniscient and omnipotent when it comes to protecting their kids.
I have taken my family to the Beach at Pinehurst three times since it re-opened in 2010. It was not until the third visit that one of my children got into trouble in the water and we needed help. How was I possibly to know that the lifeguards would not respond to that need? I bring my family there specifically because there are trained lifeguards there to help me (not be responsible for – but help) in the potentially difficult job of keeping my kids safe in the water. I believed I was making a responsible choice as a parent. How could I have known that level of redundancy in my safety plan (which included my presence in the pool, setting saftey boundries, ect.) was not reliable until it was proven so?
At what point is it ok for parents to rely on the people in our community who are suppose to be there to help us? If the EMTs fail to respond when parents call for help for their injured child, would we just say “well you know – the parents are ultimately responsible. They should have known the ambulance wouldn’t arrive”?
Parents are responsible and I think most take that responsibility very, very seriously. But, it is too big a job to do without back-up and I think parents should be able to have at least some confidence that the people who are trained and paid to be that back-up will be there when we need them. Otherwise, their presence is a diservice in providing nothing but a false sense of security.
And yes, I should have complained louder and higher-up. I wasn’t hinting at that. I said it.
Like or Dislike: 13 4
The reason I wondered about the divisions is because the old municipal pool in my hometown started out with a regular pool that started at 4′ and went to 15′ at the diving end, and a wading pool that was a uniform 18″. Separated by chain link fencing.
To the best of my knowledge, no one ever drowned in either.
Like or Dislike: 5 3
Shoreline, I think what CMT is saying is that if you have concerns with the safety at that pool, and it seems as though you do(and you have done the right thing and complained), don’t go to that pool. don’t wait for something bad to happen.
Like or Dislike: 3 3
Very well said! Enough said!
What the heck is a Duluth school doing hauling all those kids out of town any how?
Like or Dislike: 3 5
My guess is – and it is only a guess – is that the facility is fun, outdoor, inexpensive, lifeguard monitored and generally thought of as safer than Park Point which is the closest thing available in Duluth.
Are parents even invited to go along? How were they expected to get there? This should come down on the shoulders of the ISD 709. FOR SURE!
Like or Dislike: 4 6
The people voting thumbs down on this thread just outright suck as human beings. Since I also suck as a human being, I am hoping that I can redeem myself by either personally sending them to hell, or to meet them there someday and make their stay even worse.
Like or Dislike: 0 6
Click here to cancel reply.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
To start connecting please log in first.
Topics is proudly provided by the Forum Communications Company