Child nearly drowns at lake

Teen swimmer pulls boy, 3, to shore

July 20, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A 3-year-old boy was clinging to life last night after a high school senior swimming at Carroll County's popular Cascade Lake pulled the child from an area just beyond a safety rope that separates nonswimmers from deeper water.

Maryland State Police had not identified the child last evening because relatives could not be located, said Sgt. Brenda Tharp, duty officer at the Westminster barracks. The investigation is continuing, and criminal investigators and the Child Abuse Sexual Assault unit were assisting, she said.

The child was taken by ambulance to Carroll County General Hospital and transferred to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Tharp said. He was in critical condition last night, state police said.

Garland R. Marshall Jr., a 17-year-old North Carroll High School senior, said he felt something brush his hand as he swam underwater toward shore. He said he stopped swimming, reached out with his foot and felt something strange near the sandy bottom of the spring-fed lake off Snydersburg Road.

Marshall said he submerged and resurfaced with the limp body of the little boy.

The teen-ager carried the child in his arms about 40 feet to the beach, shouting for lifeguards as he waded by 50 or more adults and small children splashing in the roped-off shallow area.

"I couldn't feel a pulse," Marshall said. "The boy was unconscious and before I could begin CPR, the lifeguards were right there to take over."

Dawn Waite, 35, said Marshall is a friend of her teen-age daughter and had joined them on the hot day to swim.

"The lifeguards were right on top of this [emergency]," she said. "They were doing everything they could to revive the child."

Staff member Bert Magladry, 22, was at the concession stand when the shouting began about 2: 35 p.m.

Magladry said Robert Ryan, a lifeguard and trained emergency medical technician, performed CPR until paramedics from Hampstead arrived.

"All the guards are trained in CPR, but he's had even more experience," Magladry said.

Cascade Lake has long been a popular summer gathering point for picnics and swimming.

The property was purchased in 1992 by Patrick Flynn and his wife, Suzanne.

Flynn called yesterday's events "tragic."

"We have never had a drowning, and it appears this may become a fatality," said Flynn, before learning that the child's heart had been restarted. He said he was concerned for the boy, the boy's family and his staff members who tried to revive the child.

Swimming is permitted only in a small section of the 6-acre lake. Signs and buoy lines define the shallow and deep areas, ranging in depth from inches to 4 feet for nonswimmers and 4 feet to 8 feet in deeper water.

Three large wooden rafts float in the deeper area, where tired swimmers can rest before swimming about 40 feet to shallow water.

Routinely, four to six lifeguards patrol the swimming areas, Flynn said. Five guards and two managers were on duty yesterday.

Search of grounds, water

In a written statement, state police investigators said the boy was with other children in a supervised group in the shallow area of the lake. During that activity, the 3-year-old disappeared and a search of the grounds and water began immediately.

It was unclear if the child was visiting the lake with a day care provider or a summer camp group.

Waite recalled that about 25 to 30 minutes before Marshall discovered the submerged child, Chuck Colgan, a manager, "had waded into the shallow water to ask a group of ladies to bring their children away from the deeper water, closer to shore."

Waite said the women appeared to comply, but several minutes later, she heard a woman say she could not find a little boy.

"I'm not sure if that woman was with the group the guard had warned or not," Waite said.

About that time, Magladry said a woman came to the concession stand asking if anyone had seen a small African-American boy wearing blue shorts.

"She didn't appear alarmed, and I remember telling her that we had not seen him," Magladry said.

He said another woman came to the concession stand about 10 minutes later, asking if a child could be paged on the public address system.

"We didn't feel any sense of urgency -- we get dozens of these requests on busy days -- and we asked for a description," he said.

Magladry recalled being given a first name, because the boy was too young to respond to his last name. The page was made.

Minutes later, the boy was pulled from the water, said Magladry.

He said Colgan was sent home because he was too upset to complete his shift, and Flynn said he wanted to request a crisis team to provide psychological support for his staff members.

Swimmers at the lake are required to pass a swimming test given by the guards if they want to enter the deep water, Magladry said. Younger children, such as toddlers, would not be allowed to take that test, but would be directed to stay with an adult in the nonswimmers' area.

"This is a safe place to bring kids," Waite said. "I have brought my children here for years, and I certainly wouldn't bring them here if it weren't safe."

2-year-old drowned

Yesterday's incident marked the second water accident in Carroll County in three days.

A toddler found unresponsive in the pool at his family's Finksburg home on Saturday died by drowning, according to the state medical examiner's finding, state police said yesterday.

Alexander Nash Brosey, 2, of Constellation Way was discovered by a relative about 4: 30 p.m. and was taken to Carroll County General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, state police said.

No foul play was suspected, said Cpl. Andrew Winner of the Westminster barracks.

An autopsy is routinely ordered to confirm the suspected cause of such deaths, he said.

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