Officials seek to strengthen pool safety standards - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Officials seek to strengthen pool safety standards


State officials are looking at new ways to revamp safety standards in school pools after two Connecticut students drowned in school pools this year.

In both cases, the students could not swim and were found in the deep end.

"We need to make the program better to save lives," said state Rep. Stephen D. Dargan (D-West Haven) of the Public Safety Committee.

Dargan told Eyewitness News that he was stunned to learn when it comes to pool safety, policies can vary from school to school.

On Jan. 11 around noon Marcum Asiamah of East Hartford was found unconscious underwater in the deep end of the pool while participating in a supervised swim class, police said.

Marcum was pulled from the water and CPR was initiated by school staff. He was transported to Connecticut Children's Medical Center where he later died.

In Manchester, the day before Thanksgiving, investigators believe 14-year-old Malvrick Donkor was at the bottom of a pool for more than 15 minutes before someone spotted his lifeless body. 

Malvrick, who arrived from Ghana, Africa in March, had been taking part in a swim class when he was discovered in the deep end. He was rushed to Manchester Memorial Hospital where he died. The chief medical examiner's office ruled his death an accidental drowning.

While many schools follow guidelines set by the American Red Cross, in Manchester, the principal has told Eyewitness News there were 15 kids in the pool at the time and one certified swim teacher, which is a minimum state requirement.

But some schools have larger class sizes. In West Haven, for example, class sizes for lessons are usually between eight and 10 students and Eyewitness News was told there are always three certified adults and a lifeguard in addition to an instructor and an aide who are in the pool with the kids.

"You need to have safety across the board as a priority," said West Haven Park and Recreation Pool and Waterfront Coordinator Margaret Ruggiero.

Malvrick had recently moved to Connecticut from Africa and his stepfather wanted him to learn to swim. But at the same time, he wished someone had kept an extra eye on him.

"We need a lifeguard, at least two people should be around," Daniel Ofori-Mintah previously told Eyewitness News.

Swimming lessons at Manchester High School have now been suspended and the pool has been closed since the incident. 

Dargan said he is in the process of doing research and intends to introduce a bill on pool safety in the upcoming legislative session.

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