Child airlifted following drowning call

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 ~ Updated 3:20 PM
A child was discovered unresponsive near the slides (above) at the Spencer Family Aquatic Center Wednesday afternoon. Following a 911 call, the youth was transported by Spencer Ambulance to the Spencer Hospital. Details regarding the identity and condition of the victim were unavailable at press time. (Photos by Randy M. Cauthron)

A typical loud and raucous summer afternoon at the Spencer Family Aquatic Center was cut short Wednesday when a 911 call regarding a potential drowning cleared the facility and eventually led to the closure of the pool for the remainder of the day.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m., the emergency center received information regarding a young drowning victim and sent Spencer emergency responders, the Spencer Police and Clay County Sheriff's office racing to the center.

Few details were available following the incident. Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson said specific information was pending notification of the young person's family.

Pool guests wait outside the main entrance at the Spencer Family Aquatic Center for rides around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday following a potential drowning call to 911.

Lawson did say the six-year-old was transported immediately to the Spencer Hospital with what he called, "life threatening" injuries. He was then life-flighed to a Sioux Falls medical facility. His condition remained unknown at press time.

A witness at the scene, whose husband reportedly pulled the young person from the water, provided limited details.

"My husband was grabbing kids off the slide, and felt someone bump against his leg. He looked down and saw him in the water. He realized something wasn't right and pulled him up out of the water immediately," she said.

Additional details, including the child's condition, were not made immediately available.

Lawson interviewed witnesses at the scene and spoke with lifeguards on duty at the time of the incident.

The Spencer Family Y provides service and employs lifeguard personnel at the Spencer Family Aquatic Center.

Clay County Emergency Director Eric Tigges noted that in a case like this, the lifeguards involved can beat themselves up mentally working through scenarios regarding the accident. He indicated that he plans to conduct a Critical Incident Stress Management exercise with the pool staff as early as Thursday.

"It will be an opportunity to decompress a bit. It will help them get their heads on straight," Tigges said.

Additional details will be provided as they become available.