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SouthtownStar (Chicago, Illinois)

The death of a 6-year-old Justice boy who had been swimming at a Bridgeview pool was ruled an accidental drowning Thursday, and the park district day camp he was involved in has been canceled until Monday, officials said.

Michael Duda, of the 8100 block of Concord Lane, died Wednesday afternoon at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, officials said. He had been pulled unresponsive from the Bridgeview Park District pool in Commissioners Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Duda was at the pool with the Justice Park District's day camp on a regularly scheduled camp outing, according to a news release from the Justice Park District. Bridgeview Park District lifeguards were monitoring the pool, and Justice day camp staff assisted with admininistering CPR, according to the release.

"The entire staff of the Justice Park District extends our deepest condolences and prayers to Michael's family in this unfortunate incident," the release said.

Bridgeview Police Chief Walter Klimek said detectives were at the Cook County medical examiner's office Thursday to answer questions during the autopsy, which determined that Duda accidentally drowned, the medical examiner's office said.

Detectives also were re-interviewing witnesses, including lifeguards and the boy's chaperone, Klimek said.

"We understand there were 10 chaperones for 73 kids, so each chaperone had seven kids in age brackets, so I want to interview the chaperone in charge of Michael Duda's age bracket and see what she can elaborate on what could have happened," Klimek said Thursday morning.

"Seven (kids per counselor) is pretty decent," he said of the staffing ratio.

The three lifeguards on duty Tuesday were going to be interviewed again "because in the initial stages, they're in a state of shock and may not remember a few things," he said.

One lifeguard was assigned to the deep end, one was a rover ­- walking around the pool -­ and one was assigned to the shallow end, Klimek said. Michael was pulled from the shallow end and lifeguards immediately began performing CPR, Klimek said.

"We're looking to find out if there's a set number of lifeguards that need to be there. Was three enough? There were 300 people there, but there wasn't 300 people in the pool. The maximum capacity is 345," Klimek said.

Bridgeview Park District parks and recreation director Thomas Landek did not return calls seeking comment.

Police have seen "a very grainy videotape that's (from) a distance," but "you can see a lifeguard pulling a child out. And you can see how many kids are in the pool. It's not overflowing," Klimek said.

Another child in the summer camp saw Michael in the water and told a camp counselor, who alerted a lifeguard, Klimek said. The chain of events happened in seconds, he said.

According to a lifeguard, Michael was not on the bottom of the pool, was not floating face down and was about 6 feet from the edge of the pool when the lifeguard grabbed him, Klimek said.

A neighbor of the Duda family, when told about Michael's death, said, "Oh, my God. I saw him outside a lot. A good kid."


June 20, 2014




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