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A teen’s death at a Chicago Park District pool in mid-August has his family and friends seeking a reason for the tragedy, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We just want to know what happened and why,” the teen’s aunt, Sherry Hedge, 45, told the paper. Christopher Bowen, 14, died while swimming on a Friday afternoon. Family members told the Tribune that Bowen was a strong swimmer, and came “from a family of former Chicago Park District lifeguards.” He was a regular at the McKinley Park Pool, where he swam for the last time on August 9. Hedge, drawing on eyewitness accounts, told the Tribune that she believes her nephew dove into the deep end and hit his head on the bottom of the pool. A friend, Eduardo Gonzalez, 17, poked Bowen when he did not surface for more than a minute, citing that the young boy was “getting purple in his face.”
Damen Root, another swimmer at the pool, agreed with Gonzalez: neither saw a lifeguard perform CPR, according to the Tribune. Nor did the lifeguard “blow a whistle to alert the other eight or so guards on duty or enter the pool to offer assistance.” Root told the Tribune that it was “very apparent the boy was in trouble.” Root attempted to save Bowen when he saw a “pinkish fluid streaming from Christopher’s nose,” and began to push “the boy toward the pool’s edge while yelling for help from the lifeguard seated 10 feet away.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning,” and “of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.” One main factor, according to the CDC, that these numbers are so high is a lack of close supervision. “Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water… and even in the presence of lifeguards,” reports the CDC. Most children ages 1 to 4 that drown die in home swimming pools, but there are not statistics available for the number or demographic of drowning victims who die in a public pool, such as Bowen did.