Cedar Park pool where little girl may have drowned expected to re-open Saturday

Williamson County
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CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Cedar Park police say there were four lifeguards on duty when a little girl was pulled from a city pool earlier this week.

The child died the following day, and the city closed Buttercup Pool. It’s expected to re-open on Saturday.

Cedar Park police told KXAN there were 130-140 people at the pool when the incident happened.

Police say it’s well below the city’s allowed capacity of 200 people in and around the pool.

The four lifeguards present at the time meant there was a ratio of about 1 lifeguard per 32 swimmers.

The American Lifeguard Association recommends 1 lifeguard per 25 swimmers, when there is at least 50 swimmers.

Police say they’re still investigating how many chaperones there were as part of the church camp the child was with.

“Supervise with your eyes,” said Jen Brown, Director of Operations at Emler Swim School. “Drowning is silent, and we have to keep our eyes on our kids at all times to ensure that they’re safer in the water.”

At pools where lifeguards are required, Texas law says there should be at least one guard on duty, along with another person trained in first aid and CPR.

Police and firefighters initially responded Tuesday before 3 p.m. Paramedics took the child to a hospital after the incident.

Officials say the circumstances surrounding this incident remain under investigation. 

“We are in the fact-gathering stage of an investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the incident,” officials wrote. They wouldn’t say if this was an accident or a crime. 

Rusty Jennings happened to drive by the pool Tuesday afternoon. He said he noticed a woman standing outside the fence, looking up and praying. 

“I just thought that was kind of odd, and I then kind of scanned the pool,” Jennings said. “I noticed the lifeguards were pulling this girl out of the pool.”

The former paramedic of 29 years parked his car, climbed over the tall fence and began helping the lifeguards already performing CPR on the girl. 

“I’ve driven by that pool a thousand times,” Jennings said. “God put me right there when I needed to be, and I was able to help.” 

Stefanie Raya watched the first responders work to resuscitate the girl. She said she later talked to her own children about looking out for themselves and others in the water. 

“It’s tough being a parent because you can imagine your child in that situation,” Raya said, wiping away tears. ” All I could do is think about her parents all night and knowing that that happened and they weren’t there. It’s hard.” 

The girl came to the pool with a large group of children on a field trip with the High Hopes Sports and Afterschool summer program. Ryan Campbell, the president of the organization’s board of directors, released the following statement Wednesday: 

Our primary concern is for the child and family affected by this incident. Our entire church family is engaged in prayer for this family.

Safety is our number one priority. We understand the reasonable concerns raised by this incident. We are extremely focused on reviewing our safety procedures in general and this incident in detail. While this review takes place, we are limiting our activities to our primary campus.

We are actively communicating with the parents of the children in our care regarding this incident and changes to our procedures. We immediately self-reported this incident to the state child-care licensing authorities as required by state child-care regulations and are actively cooperating with their investigation.

The City of Cedar Park confirmed that police are interviewing witnesses to determine what happened before the girl was pulled from the water. Police, however, would not comment Wednesday on any rumors circulating online among social media users. 

Raya said she worries about all the children who watched this unfold and how they may feel the next time they visit a pool. 

“They’ll probably be okay, but I’m not sure,” she said. “They probably need to talk to someone.” 

Jennings said the girl had a pulse, but could not breathe on her own when paramedics took her from the pool Tuesday. The city would not provide an update on the girl’s condition other than to say she remains hospitalized. 

The city is unsure when Buttercup Pool will reopen. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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