Details of Walnut Hills drowning emerge

CINCINNATI -- A report released by the Cincinnati Recreation Commission Monday reveals more details surrounding the drowning death of a 10-year-old earlier this month.

A lifeguard on break swimming in the deep end of Bush Recreation Center Pool June 18 found Tyrell Wyche unresponsive at the pool's bottom after a swimmer brought the situation to his attention, according to the CRC's report.

At the time, the report states, about 10 people were in the deep end, and another 25 in the shallow portion of the public pool.

The pool was also fully staffed with 4 lifeguards, a gate monitor, assistant manager and pool monitor, according to the report.

All staff on duty followed protocol that day when it came to monitoring the pool. Rules were also followed when the on-break guard pulled Wyche from the water.

The guards performed CPR on Wyche, who had no identifiable pulse or breath at the time, as the assistant manager called 911, the report states.

By the time emergency medical technicians took Wyche to the hospital he had a pulse, but no breath according to the report.

 The Hamilton County Coroner's Office confirmed last Monday that Wyche died from complications related to his drowning.

As a result of Wyche's death and several other scares early in the pool season, Cincinnati City Council has since decided watching over many young children may be asking too much of lifeguards.

"We think 7, 8, 9 is too young to be at a pool unaccompanied," said Councilmember Amy Murray. 

Murray and the rest of Council passed a motion stating that no person under the age of 11 can use a city pool if an adult does not accompany them.

The motion was only a suggestion, however, as the Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC) has the ultimate say on issues such as age requirements. But the organization decided to formally adopt Council's suggestion on Friday.

CRC spokesperson Bunny Arszman confirmed to WCPO that new age restrictions are in place during open swim sessions.

According to the CRC's rule and regulations for pools , "Children age 7-11 must be accompanied and supervised by a parent, legal guardian or adult age 18 or older during open swim hours." The website says it went into effect June 26.

That policy is reinforced by signs at each the 23 city pools the policy affects. 

CRC policy previously allowed children as young as 7 years old to be at the pool without being accompanied by an adult.

All children 17 and under are required to be registered with the CRC by a parent or guardian in order to get a season membership or a one-day pass.

While Arszman was able to say Friday that there will be some exceptions for situations like swim lessons, she said additional details won't be available until the new policy is released on Monday.

“We need to put a bandage on this for the next month, or the next month and a half while everyone’s still swimming in July and August, to make sure this doesn’t happen again this summer. 

“Then I think we have the winter to look at a comprehensive plan and look at what other people do.”

Parents like Edgar Scott support the change.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Scott who spent Thursday at a pool in Pleasant Ridge with three of his children. "I think it's added protection for the kids and the lifeguards."

Vashani Walker isn’t so sure.

While the mother understands the push for additional safety measures at local pools, she fears the new restrictions could negatively affect working parents who can’t afford extra child care or summer camps.

Even though the CRC's official rules explicitly state that "lifeguards are not babysitters," Walker says she drops her 10-year-old off at the pool when she goes to work.

"I do that because I'm at work. I just hope that the lifeguards are doing their job," she said.

WCPO reporters Scott Wegener and Casey Weldon contributed to this report.

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