It’s been two weeks since six-year-old Wyatt Hanna drowned at The Beach in Cloquet’s Pinehurst Park, and almost a week since the sand-bottomed swimming pond reopened.
It was a tragic accident, and my heart goes out to his family and friends. As a parent to young ones myself, I can’t imagine being in their shoes.
As a former lifeguard, however, I am frustrated by suggestions that the drowning is somehow the fault of the lifeguards. In the world we wish we lived in, they would have seen him sooner and that little boy would be with us today. Still, as a lifeguard watching over a mass of people in a swimming pool, unless a child is struggling in the water, they might not draw your attention.
No one knows how this little boy drowned in three feet of water. Was he holding his breath under water and something went wrong? Did he get kneed in the head by an unaware child, who moved on to the next fun thing, not thinking twice about what his or her knee just encountered?
There are no cameras at the Beach, so odds are quite good we’ll never know.
In the meantime, attendance is down dramatically at the city swimming facility, despite consistently hot and humid weather. According to my 11-year-old daughter, her friends aren’t coming back for a couple different reasons.
+ Some of them are scared.
+ New rules implemented at the pool are much more restrictive, which means that many of the kids who were going to The Beach alone, without supervision, aren’t being allowed in anymore.
According to the Cloquet Community Education website, Beach rules require the following:
+ Children six years old and younger need to be supervised by an adult who is in the water with them.
+ Children younger than 12 need to be accompanied by an adult – or childcare provider who is at least 16 years old – unless they have passed the level 4 swim lessons and can show proof with a card.
+ Children 12 years old and older can come alone.
+ A babysitter/childcare provider must be at least 16 years old to supervise youth under age 12.
I don’t know if they wrote up new guidelines for childcare groups who come to the pool, but as a mother of young ones and a former lifeguard, I would suggest an adult-to-child ratio of 4:1. That’s just me talking though.
As a Cloquet resident, I don’t want is a pond that closes because of lack of attendance. They already close at 2 p.m. if there are fewer than 15 swimmers at the pool, which was the case this Monday.
What Cloquet families can do is show some support for this unique facility, that we fought so hard to get. It’s still one of the safest places to go swimming, and the water is great.
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