Last week, a four year old boy tragically drowned at the Glenview Park District pool. On the day of the accident, the boy was visiting the pool with a day care center summer camp. According to reports, the boy entered the water without being noticed by lifeguards or chaperones. He eventually ended up in the five-foot-deep section of the pool before he was spotted by lifeguards and pulled out of the water. Unfortunately, the boy was not pulled out in time and was pronounced dead at a Glenview hospital.
When a tragedy like this occurs, it is important to examine what went wrong to prevent future incidents. As an experienced Chicago trial lawyer, I believe this tragedy was caused by inexcusable carelessness and disregard for important safety regulations. First, the boy's group was in violation of the 8-to-1 child-to-chaperone ratio required by State law for day care field trips. These ratios are established by the State to ensure that there are enough adults to keep watch over each child at all times and prevent this type of accident. Regardless of whether the day care center was unaware of this law or chose to ignore it, this failure makes them directly responsible for the boy's death.
In addition, Glenview Park District rules require that children take a swimming test and wear life jackets in the pool if they fail the test. Both the day care center and the Park District itself are responsible for this boy not wearing a life jacket. The day care center should have been aware of the Park District's rules prior to arriving at the pool and made sure that the children followed the rules. The Park District had a duty to make sure its rules were being followed, otherwise these rules are useless. In sum, if either of these regulations had been observed, this tragedy likely could have been avoided.
With another hot summer upon us, I urge all parents, camp counselors, and any other supervisor of children to exercise the utmost safety when it comes to children around water. There is simply no such thing as being “too careful” in these situations.