An assistant state medical examiner has ruled that Allen Christopher Mrozinski, an excellent swimmer who died while being tested for a lifeguard job in Ocean City Sunday, drowned accidentally.
Mrozinski, 22, of the Carney area in Baltimore County, drowned in a swimming pool while performing a simulated rescue of a drowning victim, who was played by an experienced lifeguard. Several other lifeguards were near the pool when the exercise suddenly turned into a real situation, according to eyewitness and official accounts.
Additional tests are being performed to determine if an underlying medical condition, medication, drugs or alcohol played a
role in the drowning, Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Frank J. Peretti said yesterday.
Peretti said he found no evidence of trauma, such as a blow to the head. He also saw no evidence of a heart attack, although the additional tests will enable him to rule on that and other conditions that could have contributed to the accidental drowning.
The drowning is believed to be the first involving a person taking a lifeguard test in the 45- to 50-year history of the Beach Pa
trol, said Tom Perlozzo, director of the Ocean City Department of Recreation and Parks, which includes the Beach Patrol.
Mrozinski was a good athlete and swimmer who appeared to be in excellent health, said his father, Carman Mrozinski. When the young man headed to Ocean City, he hoped to fulfill his dream of becoming a lifeguard, his father said.
(See DROWNING, D16, Col. 1 DROWNING, From D1 The following account of what happened to Mrozinski is based interviews with Perlozzo, police, Beach Patrol members and an eyewitness.
Ten to 15 applicants and about five lifeguards gathered at a condominium pool for the final phase of the test. The lifeguards taught the applicants how to perform an in-water rescue and allowed them to practice in the shallow end of the pool before the applicants had to "rescue" a lifeguard.
When it was Mrozinski's turn, an experienced lifeguard portrayed a drowning swimmer and resisted Mrozinski's rescue attempts -- as many panicky victims do. The lifeguard then submerged to await rescue by Mrozinski. This test was performed in 8 feet of water.
Mrozinski also submerged.
"From there, it's unclear whether Chris went down to get the 'victim' or went underwater," the eyewitness said. Two Beach Patrol sergeants, experienced lifeguards , noticed that Mrozinski appeared to be in a lifeless position. No more than 5 seconds had elapsed, a witness said.
Several other witnesses, in fact, told police that the drowning occurred very quickly, in a matter of seconds.
Mrozinski was pulled out of the water, and a lifeguard began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive him. Mrozinski began breathing on his own for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Then his heart stopped and rescuers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Paramedics arrived within 3 1/2 minutes of the call for help, an eyewitness said.
But Mrozinski did not respond to the rescue attempts. He was pronounced dead at a Salisbury hospital.
"It's a tragic accident," Perlozzo said.
"Something went wrong," Mrozinski's father said. "You don't drown in three seconds."
The family is awaiting the results of the medical examiner's tests, said Carman Mrozinski, adding, "I'm sure it was nothing they [the Beach Patrol] did."
The Beach Patrol does not require prospective lifeguards to undergo medical examinations, Perlozzo said. It is too early to say what effect the drowning may have on the Beach Patrol's policies and procedures for testing would-be members, he said.
"We're taking a hard look at it."