Three-year-old boy drowns at Kalahari in Sandusky

Posted Sunday, August 2, 2009 11:19 PM | Contributed by Jeff

A lifeguard found Hassan Itani, of Dearborn, unresponsive about 3:15 p.m in an outdoor pool at Kalahari Resorts. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Report says the indoor water park and resort was disciplined in May for having fewer lifeguards than expected.

Read more from The Sandusky Register, AP via Google and The Plain Dealer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009 11:37 PM

I feel bad for the family, but how does this happen?

Who takes a 3 year old to a water park and does not keep them with in arms reach at all times. I don't see how this has anything to do with the number of lifeguards on duty. They are not babysitters after all.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 12:07 AM

DaveStroem said:
I don't see how this has anything to do with the number of lifeguards on duty. They are not babysitters after all.

No, they aren't babysitters, they are lifeguards. As in they guard the lives of those in the water. Drowning is not instantaneous. If a 3 year old drowns it likely could be an indication that there aren't enough lifeguards on duty.

It disturbs me a little that he was found by staff and not his parents/family/guardian, though. I'd like to know where they were at the time.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 12:15 AM

Senseless. What a tragedy.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 8:20 AM

Where was anybody while he was drowning? Was he the only one in the pool? You would think someone else, be it lifeguard, guest, or parent, would have noticed something. Tragic.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 9:08 AM

I'm not going to pass judgement on the company or the family at this point though it is obvious the 3 year old is not to blame.

Let me put on my Parks and Recreation Director hat for a minute:

I don't care if you live in the middle of Iowa and there isn't a puddle of water for 100 miles, please, please, please teach your children to swim at the earliest age possible. I have witnessed infant swim programs where children under 1 year old can be taught to turn over on their back. There is no reason not to do it and a lifetime of reasons why you should.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 10:30 AM

The register article seems to give a lot more information
http://sanduskyregister.com/articles/2009/08/03/front/doc4a75f749cb...316245.txt
And the entire story is there, no need to sign up to read it :)

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Monday, August 3, 2009 11:47 AM

That is truly sad. Having raised two daughters, i cannot imagine how the family must feel at this time. Out living your kids is a parents worst nightmare.

My hopes and prayers to all involved.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 1:31 PM

A toddler who can't swim can drown a lot faster (and more quietly) than you'd think, and kids can slip out of your sight in any situation quickly as well. Don't be too quick to place blame.

And, I'll echo the Cheif's excellent suggestion---make sure your kids know how to swim.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 3:54 PM

The additional article sheds a lot more light into what happened than the original. I don't really hear anyone placing blame, but rather searching for answers about what might have happened.

I can accept an accident as an accident. But given the park has been cited for too few lifeguards on duty in the past, I'd want to know more about the condition of coverage on this day.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 4:07 PM

What an absolutely tragic event. Accidents happen, but it's always the worst when something this horrible happens. My heart goes out to the family.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 5:40 PM

I quote from the article:

“He was probably under water ... two to five minutes,” Baxter said.“That seems long, but in the whole commotion of things, it’s quick.”

I am absolutely dumbfounded that the lifeguards didn't notice this. I am an Ellis lifeguard and we have a standard called 10/20. You have 10 seconds to scan all areas of your zone, and 20 seconds to respond to any incidents that may need a lifeguard. 2 minutes let alone 5 minutes is an absurd amount of time. So either the lifeguard was not doing his/her job, or the management is at fault for not properly staffing/training/auditing their employees and facility.

I feel terrible for the poor boy who lost his life. I feel even worse for the family who lost their child while on vacation. My heart and prayers are with this family.

Last edited by WildStangAlex, Monday, August 3, 2009 6:26 PM
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Monday, August 3, 2009 9:39 PM

I have seen quite a bit of parental foolishness regarding very young children at waterparks.

My wife, who is basically a non-swimmer, "rescued" 2 children from the wave pool because their parents weren't nearby and they were in trouble.

I truly think a waterpark (indoor or out) is not a place for very young children.

This is very sad and very preventable.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 9:48 PM

Ok i have work at this park for 2yrs before i moved to orlando last month even have been a headguard before. I love kalahari but ive always been afraid that this might happen the lifeguard just dont care that much. Sum do i feel bad for the family and i hopethe lifeguard isnt in trouble but trust me the director there will go ape.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 10:49 PM

Well I guess we know literacy is not a requirement for working there.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 12:09 AM

My question is why wasn't the child wearing a life-jacket? I thought most waterparks required them for children under a certain age?

My step-son, who is 12 and autistic, wears one.We just let him do his thing and not have to worry about him.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 6:41 AM

DaveStroem said:
Who takes a 3 year old to a water park and does not keep them with in arms reach at all times. I don't see how this has anything to do with the number of lifeguards on duty. They are not babysitters after all.

Amen to that. Too many parents treat park employees as their own personal babysitting service. Not saying that's what happened here, but it does seem strange that someone would let their toddler who doesn't know how to swim go out of sight for that long at a place like that.

I have quite a few friends who are/were lifeguards at Soak City or Castaway Bay (Ellis certification) who have picked up extra winter time hours working at Kalahari. Even before this happened they had all talked about how poor the training was at Kalahari and how lax they were about maintaining adequate staffing levels (due to budget concerns) in comparison to the rigid Ellis requirements that Cedar Fair maintains. The whole thing seems pretty senseless, and I think there is blame to be shared among several parties.

Last edited by CP Chris, Tuesday, August 4, 2009 6:42 AM
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 11:06 AM

CoffinBoy said:
My question is why wasn't the child wearing a life-jacket? I thought most waterparks required them for children under a certain age?

My step-son, who is 12 and autistic, wears one.We just let him do his thing and not have to worry about him.

When I worked as a lifeguard at Kalahari the only place that required a life-jacket was the wave pool. It was recommended but not required anywhere else, and on all slides (even the ones in the kiddy pool) they were not allowed to wear the life-jacket while riding. And it is still possible to drown in a life-jacket, it just makes it extremely difficult.

I worked at this park in 2007 and thought the training was fine, not as intensive as the Red Cross but the training is geared specifically to this park. If you go to another waterpark then you have to get retrained, even if it is another Kalahari. When I left Kalahari and moved to Maui Sands, most of the better managers and lifeguards left also, and right at this time is when they got a new General Manager, and all the problems started.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 2:35 PM

I just have one thing to say. Where was the boys parents??

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 11:12 PM

I worked at this park in 2007 and thought the training was fine, not as intensive as the Red Cross but the training is geared specifically to this park.

Not as intensive as Red Cross? Red Cross requires lifeguards to be be re-licensed every three years in lifeguarding, and every year in CPR with no intermittent trainings. It's very easy to forget skills and standards in that time, so if it's not as intensive, I can see how easy it would be to not know what you're doing.

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