City police rule boy's drowning accidental, close investigation

June 08, 2006|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore police have ruled the death of a 7-year-old boy who was found in a city swimming pool Tuesday an accidental drowning and have closed their investigation, a police official said yesterday.

Officer Nicole Monroe, a department spokeswoman, said detectives do not suspect foul play in how Tyji Chester, a second-grader at Lafayette Elementary School in West Baltimore, fell into the Central Rosemont pool after he apparently scaled a 10-foot-high fence.

The boy's father, Thomas Chester, said he believes his son was with three other children or teenagers when he left the school building.

Chester and Tyji's mother, Harriet Cox, met with school administrators for two hours yesterday hoping to get answers as to how their autistic child was able to elude supervisors. Cox said administrators had no information.

"We have holes, and they have holes, and we're trying to plug these holes," Cox said. "Right now, they don't have answers, and I don't know what to say to them. That school is so disjointed right now because he was a loved child."

Cox said she was told that one of her son's teachers pulled him out of the water and administered CPR. School officials declined to comment.

Cox, meanwhile, made a plea for the other children she believes were with her son to come forward.

"Those boys and girls that were there at that pool when it happened, all I'm asking you is can you please contact the school and let them know what happened," she said. "I forgive you anyway, but let me know what happened and how did he get over the fence, and in his last moments in time, what went down."

Officials at the Department of Recreation and Parks sent out a statement yesterday warning people not to enter closed or fenced-in pools.

Several years ago, the department faced problems with youngsters breaking into pools - a practice called "pool hopping."

A 15-year-old boy died in 1999 after slipping under a fence at Patterson Park pool, where he drowned in 9 feet of water. Police arrested 126 trespassers the previous year, before park and recreation officials began night patrols to crack down on violators.

The pool at Rosemont was filled with water a week ago but not set to open until June 24, when all city pools will open for the annual Big Splash. The city operates six large park pools, 13 other outdoor swimming pools, three indoor facilities and 21 wading pools.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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