Investigation continues into drownings; pools to remain closed - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Investigation continues into drownings; pools to remain closed

Two days after they opened for the summer, 17 Memphis city pools sat empty Monday as officials investigated what went wrong Saturday afternoon.

At two separate community centers Saturday, Memphis teens drowned while swimming in pools.

Cameron Hogg, age 13, was transported from the Pine Hill Community Center to Lebonheur Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 2:30 pm Saturday.

Just 30 minutes later, Demavius Bailey, age 15, was pronounced dead at Methodist South after being pulled from the water at the Westwood Community Center swimming pool.

Monday, Jim Strickland, chairman of the Memphis City Council's parks committee, explained why the pools remained closed.

"The city council and city administration will not let them reopen until we are assured they're safe," he said.

Strickland, said he had a lot of questions for the city's Parks Department.

"I want to know how many lifeguards are required to be at a pool, and how many we actually had," he said.

The Parks Department didn't give Strickland or Action News 5 the answers to those questions Monday. A Memphis city spokesperson said officials to release that information later this week.

The Red Cross trains all Memphis lifeguards at Memphis city pools, and Monday, Diane Tchouros, director of Red Cross Health and Safety, said the process is rigorous.

"(Students) go through the training a lot of in water skills," she said. "A lot of written tests."

Strickland said he will push to keep Memphis City Pools closed until he gets some answers, and can be assured the proper number of lifeguards are on duty.

"Two deaths in one day is a tragic situation," he said. "We need to make sure we're doing everything we're supposed to do."

The state of Tennessee requires one lifeguard to be on duty for every 25 swimmers in certain-sized pools.  While the city wouldn't confirm Monday how many swimmers were at either pool Saturday, witnesses said tell us there were more 100 in the pool at the Pine Hill Community Center.

Witnesses to Saturday's drowning at the Pine Hill Community Center say things were chaotic when a lifeguard opened the 8 foot deep section of the pool.

Everyone ran down there and jumped in the eight feed," witness Zaccheaus Taylor said.

It was in that moment of chaos that witnesses believe Hogg went underwater.

"Somebody landed on top of his head and he got knocked unconscious," Taylor said.

The deep end of the pool was open for nearly half an hour before someone noticed Hogg at the bottom, leading many to believe he was underwater for awhile.

Once a lifeguard brought him up, Hogg "looked like he was already gone," Taylor said.

Late Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the city of Memphis said all city pools would remain closed through the week, with an anticipated re-opening of June 9.

Click here to send an email to Lori Brown.

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