City attorney to investigate pool drownings - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City attorney to investigate pool drownings

The city's attorney says it may be at least a year before results can be revealed about an investigation of drowning deaths of two teenagers in city-owned swimming pools.

Attorney Elbert Jefferson told City Council members on Tuesday that his office has taken over the investigation and details must be withheld in case the city is sued. He said the victims' relatives have one year to bring a lawsuit.

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Saturday was the opening day of the season for the city's 13 pools. That day, 13-year-old Cameron Hogg drowned at the Pine Hill Community Center and 15-year-old Demavius Bailey drowned at the Charles Powell Community Center.

The council's parks committee has asked parks services director Cindy Buchanan to report within two weeks on steps to prevent such incidents from happening again.

"I know there are many questions, and we are diligently working on it," said mayor's spokeswoman Toni Holman-Turner, who has been handling calls for Buchanan.

The city's pools have been closed all week and are expected to reopen Monday.

City Council member Jim Strickland, who chairs the parks committee, said they stay closed until answers are found.

"I think the City Council and the citizens deserve some assurance that (parks division employees) are doing what they are supposed to be doing," he said.

Isaiah Hamilton, 10, was among the swimmers at the pool where Bailey drowned. He said Bailey was underwater when another swimmer jumped in on top of him, knocking him to the bottom. One of the "six or seven" lifeguards pulled him from the water and attempted CPR before he was taken to a local hospital, the boy said.

Tennessee requires one lifeguard on duty for every 25 swimmers up to 50. Requirements are set according to a square-footage scale when 51 or more patrons are present.

City officials would not answer questions regarding individual pool capacity and how it is monitored, and they have not released how many swimmers were in each pool Saturday.       "There were kids everywhere," Hamilton said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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