Girl, 5, Dies in Apparent Drowning at Pool in Prince George's County

By Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 27, 2009

A 5-year-old girl died yesterday in an apparent drowning at a crowded College Park community pool operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Authorities provided conflicting accounts of whether a lifeguard or swimmers first spotted the girl unresponsive in the water.

A spokesman for Prince George's County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said witnesses reported that a 10-year-old swimmer first noticed the girl motionless at the bottom of the shallow end of the Olympic-size pool. Fire spokesman Mark Brady said the 10-year-old pulled the girl to the surface and called for help.

Lt. Stanley Johnson, spokesman for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, which is investigating the death, said a lifeguard first spotted the girl floating facedown, whistled for others to clear the area and pulled her out about 2:25 p.m.

The girl was pronounced dead a short time later at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. Park police did not immediately release her name. There were no visible injuries on her body, Johnson said, and an autopsy is planned for today.

There are eight lifeguard stands spaced around the main pool at the Ellen Linson Swimming Pool, at 5211 Paint Branch Pkwy.; there were five working poolside when the girl was found, Johnson said.

Roughly 250 people were in and around the pool area at the time, Brady said park officials reported. The pool was closed after the incident. At that time, Brady said he counted nearly a dozen teenagers in lifeguard uniforms. Johnson said the lifeguards are trained by the park commission and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

In addition to the 50-meter pool, the aquatics center has a baby pool, but the girl was found in a 2-foot-deep area of the larger pool. The shallow end is separated from the deep end by a rope at a depth of about 3 1/2 feet, Johnson said.

He said that in the minutes before the girl was found unconscious and not breathing, lifeguards reported seeing several children and "normal play activity" in the shallow end of the pool.

Brady said paramedics arrived about four minutes after they received the call about a possible drowning. They continued CPR that had been initiated by the lifeguards, but the girl was already in extremely critical condition.

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