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SouthtownStar (Chicago, Illinois)

While the family of a 6-year-old Justice boy on Friday was tending to the grim task of planning his funeral, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said it was investigating allegations of neglect involving the boy's drowning death last week at a Bridgeview pool.

The allegations do not involve the parents, DCFS spokesman Jimmie Whitelow said, declining to say who was being investigated.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health said the Bridgeview Park District had the recommended number of lifeguards on duty when the boy was pulled from the community pool unresponsive.

Michael Duda, of the 8100 block of Concord Lane, was pulled from the pool Tuesday and died Wednesday, officials said.

It is not standard procedure for DCFS to investigate a drowning, Whitelow said, but the agency does so if circumstances merit.

"Only if there are indications that there may have been abuse or neglect," Whitelow said. "So at this particular point, we are investigating allegations of neglect, and they are not against the parents."

Duda was participating in a Justice Park District day camp and was at the Bridgeview pool as part of a regularly scheduled day camp outing, officials said. Asked if one or both park districts were the subject(s) of the DCFS investigation, Whitelow said, "At this point, I'm going to refrain from naming who we are investigating, only to say that it is not the parents."

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, which oversees public swimming pools statewide, the pool staffing of lifeguards met the minimum recommendation that day.

The code states that "at facilities where lifeguards are required, the following number shall be on duty: One lifeguard per 100 bathers, or 2,000 square feet of water surface area, whichever will result in the smaller number of lifeguards."

"The code is what we go by," health department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

There were three lifeguards on duty Tuesday when Duda was pulled from the water in the shallow end of the pool, and there were 300 bathers on the premises, Bridgeview Police Chief Walter Klimek said.

One lifeguard was stationed in the deep end one was in the shallow end, and one was a rover, walking around the pool and watching the people in the water, Klimek said.

An official at another southwest suburban park district said that one lifeguard per 100 bathers is recommended by the American Red Cross.

Duda's death was caused by accidental drowning, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office ruled after an autopsy on Thursday.

Bridgeview Park District lifeguards were monitoring the pool and Justice day camp staff assisted with administering CPR, according to a release from the Justice Park District.

Bridgeview detectives have been re-interviewing camp counselors and lifeguards, Klimek said. He said there were 10 chaperones for the 73 campers, which he called a "pretty decent" ratio.

A park supervisor in another southwest suburban community said that recommended staffing for camps is usually one counselor for every eight to 10 children.

Bridgeview Park District parks and recreation director Thomas Landek has not returned calls seeking comment. A reporter visited the park district and left messages for him on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, Michael's family is trying to come to grips with his death. Arrangements are pending, a relative said.

At the family's home Friday morning, the boy's father, Adam Duda, slowly shook his head, declined comment and deferred questions to his cousin, Kamil Florczykowski, as the two men stood in the Duda family's garage.

"We're just trying to get through this. We're really not ready to say anything at this time. We don't have any arrangements yet. Maybe after the funeral we will make a statement," Florczykowski said.


June 22, 2014


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