7-year-old girl safe after near-drowning at DC pool on Labor Day

- On the last day of the season, a 7-year-old girl was rushed to the hospital after almost drowning at a DC community pool.

Langdon Park Pool in Northeast was at capacity on Labor Day Monday, when a bystander yelled, seeing the child floating at the bottom of the pool, just after 4 p.m.

The girl is now home safe with her family, officials say. DC Fire and EMS credit quick, life-saving efforts of the pool staff for the girl’s good condition by the time emergency services arrived.

However, a parent and witness to the whole thing tells FOX 5 he’s concerned the lifeguard coverage at the pool was not sufficient.

DC parent Shawn Zeller says he was at the pool with his kids when he called 911.

“No one was at either lifeguard chair," said Zeller. 

“There was a guard walking the deck, but he was swatting flies with his guard buoy. He wasn’t fully attentive to the people swimming.”

Zeller says he and his children arrived at the pool, one lifeguard was walking the deck, but two guard towers remained empty.

Around 3:45 p.m., everyone was asked to get out of the pool for a lifeguard break. Everyone was allowed back in shortly after, and a lifeguard took her post at the tower at the shallow end.

Zeller saw the tense moment the girl was rescued by a bystander before being revived by a lifeguard.

“The bystander pulled the girl out of the pool, Zeller added.

“She would have died if the bystander hadn’t noticed because the guard didn’t pull her out. The guard never entered the pool. A guard performed CPR. And her body literally jerked back to life. It was like an involuntary spasm when she expelled the water from her lungs.”

By the time DC Fire and EMS arrived, the girl was conscious, alert and breathing.

“Usually incidents like this don’t turn out to have a positive outcome, so we were very happy to see that,” said Nicole Liriano with DC Fire and EMS.

“Bystander CPR is actually what turns out to be the most effective component to saving lives when performing CPR. So it’s essential that all bystanders – when they start CPR – the chances of [the victim] making it have significantly increased.”

DC Fire and EMS offers training classes in CPR. Liriano says an app called Pulse Point cam also help alert officials and lets willing citizens know there's someone that needs help.

Pulse Point works with the 911 system to alert people to anyone within their radius who needs CPR immediately. 

Zeller says even though he’s thankful lifeguards saved the girl’s life, he’s concerned about what led to the near-drowning.

“It was a huge sense of relief that she was revived,” said Zeller. However "they are not attentive to the pool at all times. At a time when the pool is full to capacity, you have one guard on duty for at least part of the time. I mean, there was probably 100 people in the pool.”

DC Parks and Recreation tells FOX 5 the pool was adequately staffed, but they are investigating the location of the guards at the time of the incident.

They also confirm the 7-year-old girl is now home with her family.

In a statement to FOX 5, Keith A. Anderson, Director of DC Department of Parks and Recreation said: 

"The top priority of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is to ensure that our neighbors are safe while using any DPR facility."

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