EUCLID, Ohio - Euclid police are still investigating how a 9-year-old boy drowned at a YMCA pool Tuesday with three lifeguards on duty while the victim’s family expresses outrage about his death.
“He was a 9-year-old child who was left with adults who should have been supervised from the time he got in the pool to the time he got out of the pool,” said Stephanie Akins whose nephew Lonnie Smith, Jr. of South Euclid drowned.
According to the police report, Smith was at the YMCA indoor pool Tuesday afternoon with 26 other children. All of them were with the Always Available Before & After Day Care located in Cleveland Heights.
“(Smith) was so excited the day (his mom) dropped him off,” said Akins who added that her nephew couldn’t swim, but wasn’t a stranger to water. He liked the water and had even visited the YMCA pool before.
The report said the day care employees counted the children in the group when they were done swimming, and everyone was accounted for. But before they left the pool, one employee noticed Smith was missing.
“It was just a lot of people who got paid for that day who didn’t do their job,” said Akins.
The employee searched the pool with one of the lifeguards on duty and that’s when they noticed Smith at the bottom of the deep end in 9 feet of water.
“We just don’t want to see this tragedy happen again,” said Rick Haas, spokesperson for the YMCA of Greater Cleveland. “We can’t afford to lose a child.”
The YMCA is conducting its own investigation to learn how the incident happened. It’s also brought in an independent aquatic safety consultant to assist in the investigation.
“We want to express our sincere and heartfelt condolences to all of the members of (Smith’s) family, especially his parents,” Haas said. “Parents are not supposed to bury their children.”
“The world is going to miss out on what he had to offer,” said Akins speaking of her nephew whom she described as a fun-loving, happy boy with a huge smile and a one-of-a-kind personality.
“The nine years that I had with him were wonderful,” she said.
Smith was going to be a fourth grader at Greenview Upper Elementary School in South Euclid.
Police said it’s unclear whether any charges will be filed in this case.
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