Counseling offered after girl’s death from Cedar Park pool incident

Williamson County

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — A memorial began forming for a girl who was hurt Tuesday at a pool in Cedar Park and died Wednesday from her injuries. 

People attached a bouquet of sunflowers and bunches of balloons to the fence surrounding the Buttercup Pool, which the city kept closed Thursday for the second consecutive day since the “serious incident” involving the girl.

Steve Meilstrup lives directly across the street from the pool. He and his wife walked over Thursday and tied three balloons in the shape of stars and a heart to the fence. 

“The stars would be for where we hope she’s going,” Meilstrup explained. “And our hearts are out for the parents and all the children that were involved.” 

He said he’s especially concerned for the dozens of children who witnessed what happened Tuesday afternoon and saw firsthand the ensuing response to revive the girl. One mother previously told KXAN that she estimated about 60 children were at the pool at that time. 

“All the kids were lined up along the wall over there,” Meilstrup said, pointing to the eastern side of the property. “Most of them were crying.”

The parents of those children need to address what happened with them, according to Mandi Melendez of Nurture Family Counseling in Cedar Park. 

“The likelihood is that most kids will have some kind of reaction to this,” she explained. 

Melendez works as a licensed professional counselor. 

“A good starting place might just be asking, ‘I heard something hard happened at the pool. Tell me your experience of that.’ See if there are appropriate gaps you can fill in,” Melendez said. 

“If they say a little girl was pulled out of the pool, you can acknowledge, ‘Yes, that’s true. That’s what I heard too,’” she added. “Helping them understand the narrative of what happened for them, filling in any gaps and then answering any questions and really make it clear to kids that they have a right to ask those questions.” 

The girl who died went on a trip to the pool with the summer camp program run by the High Hopes Athletics and Afterschool organization in Cedar Park. Ryan Campbell, the president of the board of directors, explained in a statement Thursday that the organization is providing help to children, their families and staff members. 

On Tuesday, one of the children in our Summer Camp program was rescued from the water at Buttercup Creek Pool. The child was transported by ambulance to the hospital. As was reported by the media, the child succumbed to her injuries yesterday.

Our hearts are broken for this family and our church family is engaged in prayer for them.

We are actively communicating with the parents of the children in our care regarding this incident. We are cooperating with the relevant authorities in their investigations.

We have been working with Williamson County Emergency Services to provide counseling on site to support children and staff. We are also working with local service providers to offer counseling to our families.

Melendez said parents should also monitor other ways that that exposure to trauma can manifest itself physically in children. 

“Sometimes it’ll show up in ways that they’re playing,” Melendez said. “Sometimes it will show up somatically in the ways that they’re experiencing their body — maybe loss of appetite, sleeping poorly, regression in bathroom habits. Depending on the age of the child, all those things would be reasonable to expect.” 

If things do not improve over time, Melendez suggested that parents seek a professional’s help. 

“I hope they find support in whatever capacity they need it,” she said. “And that will vary for every kid.” 

A sign posted outside Buttercup Pool read that the facility will remain closed at least through Friday. 

Cedar Park police are still investigating what led up to the girl being pulled from the water Tuesday. Police told KXAN that they are not planning to release the girl’s name at request by the family. 

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