Family Seeks Answers In Glenview Drowning
Vicente Cardenas' uncle speaks to Patch about the family's tragic loss. Glenview Police have completed their investigation and until further notice, the Glenview Park District has suspended use of Roosevelt and Flick pools for all camps.
Vicente Cardenas was laid to rest Tuesday, four days after he drowned at a Glenview Park District pool.
While police have closed the investigation, his family is still looking for answers as to why the four-year-old died at a crowded Glenview swimming center June 15.
Cardenas Family Reaction
“We know he was there at a class field trip and he was not wearing a life preserver,” said Val Gurvits, Vicente’s uncle and the Cardenas family spokesman. “We know that there were approximately 18 children on that field trip and there were seven or eight teachers.”
Vicente, who was less than one week from his fifth birthday and lived in Glenview with his parents, was at Roosevelt Pool with a group of campers from Wesley Day Care Center. His death was ruled an accidental drowning by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office the next day.
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Sgt. Dave Sostak of the Glenview Police told Patch his department has concluded their investigation into the matter, but did not release any new information about the circumstances of Vicente’s death.
Since 2008, Sostak said there have been 14 incidents where public safety officials have been called to the complex, but nothing involving drowning situations. These occurrences centered on people away from the water such as a visitor slipping and falling on the grounds, he said.
Now, the Cardenas family is trying to find out who was responsible for watching Vicente at the time, Gurvits said, and while he noted litigation has not been ruled out, he added they would still like a more complete report as to what happened that day.
Park District Assesses Liability
On Tuesday, park district officials said the matter and procedures are still under review. According to the park district’s attorney, liability is not a concern.
“I don’t think the park district is liable for this,” said lawyer Edward Dutton.
Dutton said he had not seen a police report or discussed the incident with Wesley officials but promised a complete look at existing rules and regulations will take place.
He also added that while there are no security cameras at the pool, there are several throughout the park district grounds.
According to park district officials, 15 lifeguards plus a manager and an assistant manager were on duty at the time Vicente drowned.
Additionally, the Cook County Department of Public Health inspected Roosevelt Pool on Monday and found the park district was in compliance with all regulations, according to a press release.
Wesley officials did not return a phone call Tuesday requesting further comment on the matter, but Executive Director Ellen Fagerburg told Patch over the weekend that the situation was under review.
DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe told the Chicago Tribune the state welfare agency had never investigated the Glenview-based child care center outside of minor licensing violations for "routine matters of record keeping and paperwork."
Operations Moving Forward
In the wake of the incident, the Park District shut down pool operations over the weekend. Now open for individuals and families, the Park District announced Tuesday both Roosevelt and Flick pools will be closed to camps during normal swim hours until further notice.
“We are taking it week by week,” said Park District Executive Director Chuck Balling. “We are going through the process right now of looking at all of our policies and we are assisting the Police and Fire Department.”
Balling also explained the safety procedures that are already in place.
Before any individual can be certified as a lifeguard, he or she must complete a 24-hour certification course in addition to a series of other training measures, he said.
Lifeguards are also required to complete weekly in-service training sessions throughout the season, Balling told Patch, and new lifeguards are placed in a two-hour shadowing process before they are allowed to watch swimmers on their own.
As for attendance numbers at the time of Vicente's drowning, Balling said there were 750 people in the area, which is slightly more than half of capacity.
Despite those numbers, many readers expressed concern in the comments section on Patch about the amount of swimmers allowed at the pool.
“I’m not surprised it happened,” wrote Francesca Meder, who has been going to the Roosevelt pool for two years. “I just thought it was crazy as to how many campers they allowed at once. I intentionally did not sign my five-year-old son this year at the Park District because I thought it too crowded for safety.”