By Jonathan Bullington and Susan Berger, Chicago Tribune

Despite sweltering heat, attendance at the normally crowded Roosevelt Outdoor Pool in Glenview was noticeably sparse Monday as state and local authorities investigated the death of a 4-year-old boy who drowned while visiting with a day care center summer camp.

The Glenview Park District pool was open Monday for the first time since a lifeguard pulled Vincente Cardenas out of the water Friday afternoon. The Glenview boy died a short time later at a local hospital.

District officials said Monday that they banned summer camp groups from the three district pools for this week while the agency reviews it policies on the many camp groups that visit regularly.

"We're giving it a week to fully understand everything," said Bob Quill, the district's leisure services superintendent. "We're being cautious. We want to be responsible."

Vincente was among 19 children from the private Wesley Child Care Centers summer camp program at the pool Friday for open swim. An official with the Department of Children and Family Services, which has begun a probe into the boy's death, said the group was chaperoned by eight center employees--far exceeding the 8-to-1 child chaperon ratio the state law requires for day care center field trips.

DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the state welfare agency had never before had to investigate the Glenview-based Wesley center. He said the center has been involved in minor licensing violations for "routine matters of record keeping and paperwork."

Day care director Ellen Fagerburg said Saturday that the center would review "all of our policies" and had suspended all pool activities.

Monday, Fagerburg said the center had brought in counselors to provide assistance to parents, staff members and other children.

Several regular patrons who were at the pool Monday said they try to avoid the facility in the afternoons, when it tends to be crowded with camp groups.

Joanna Nelson, a Glenview mother of three, said she witnesses the attempts to save Vincente's life Friday, when she said the pool was "really crowded."

Nelson said she heard a "long, loud whistle," and saw a lifeguard jump into a 5-foot-deep section of the pool and emerge with the "lifeless and limp" boy.

She and other patrons praised lifeguards for their response, which they described as quick and efficient, but they questioned how a 4-year-old ended up in 5 feet of water.

Park District officials said 12 lifeguards were stationed around the pool Friday. They also said children in district camps are required to take a swimming test and must wear life jackets at the pool if they fail. Independent summer camps with contracts to use district pools must meet the same requirement.

It's not clear if any of the children from Wesley were wearing life jackets Friday.

An Illinois Department of Public Health official said that the agency is also investigating whether the pool complies with regulations on lifeguard staffing and pool capacity.

Park District officials estimate that more than 700 people visited the pool Friday. The pool capacity is 1,359, officials said.

Glenview police did not respond to requests for comment Monday but have said they are investigating.

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The Dragonfly Story

Excerpted from the eulogy at Abbey Taylor's Celebration of Life Service

Below the surface of a quiet pond lived a colony of water bugs. They were happy, living far from the sun. But they noticed that occasionally, a member of their colony would climb up a lily stalk and disappear from sight, never to return. Where do you suppose she went? wondered a water bug.

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Pool Safety Tips

  • Use the Water Watchdog System to make sure children are always closely supervised in the pool area.

  • Remind kids to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.

  • Never dive into water less than 9 feet deep.

  • Keep gates to the pool area latched.


More water safety tips