Four-year-old boy rescued from Kroc Center swimming pool, now in stable condition

A 4-year-old boy is in stable condition today after a near-death experience in the swimming pool of the Salvation Army Kroc Center Wednesday night.

Randall Thomas, spokesman for Salvation Army’s Eastern Pennsylvania Division, said the boy became unresponsive in the family water park section of the Wissahickon Avenue facility at some point between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“A young boy was swimming in our center, became unresponsive, was removed from the water, CPR was immediately applied by our certified lifeguard, medical assistants and 911 were called, and the child was transported to the hospital.”

Thomas said the family water park, where the incident happened, consists of a water slide, zero depth entry and a few open lanes that are less than four feet in depth. Thomas said lifeguards noticed the boy struggling near the zero depth entry.

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Officer Tanya Little, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Police Department, said, as of this afternoon, the boy was in stable condition at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. 

Thomas said Salvation Army officials are still reviewing surveillance footage to confirm specific details of the event but noted that two “guardians” entered the facility with the young boy and were seen in the water with him. He could not comment on whether they were with him at the time of the incident.

Based on surveillance footage in the pool area, Kroc Center officials estimated about 30 or 40 people were in the pool at the time of the incident. Thomas said two lifeguards were on duty at the pool and another lifeguard was stationed in the office. 

“They were both in their lifeguard stations where they have visibility of the areas they are responsible for,” he said. 

Luckily, the lifeguards had extra help from a local fire department crew participating in water training in the competition pool adjacent to the family water park at the Kroc Center.

“They immediately came over and took over the CPR from the lifeguard,” Thomas said. “This is just hearsay, but I believe they were able to revive him on the dock so he was conscious as he was transported to the hospital.”

“We’re saddened by the incident and our thoughts and prayers are with both the boy and the family,” Thomas said.

Officer Little said the boy’s identity will not be released and no criminal charges have been filed. Thomas could not comment on the relationship between the guardians and the child, but confirmed that they were members of the Kroc Center. 

“Safety is one of our top priorities and we always want to make sure we are doing the best for everyone that comes through our doors,” Thomas said. “We are reviewing procedures and what we’ve done and asking are there ways to react faster to limit those types of experiences?”

An essential element of the Kroc Center is the “Learn to Swim” program, which teaches children water safety, water comfort and stroke development.

“The ‘Learn to Swim’ program is such a key and vital part of this center and Coach [Jim] Ellis will tell you he wants to break them in from the first time they touch the water to eventually move them through the steps to really, ultimately, competing. But water safety is a big push of the Salvation Army Kroc Center.” 

NewsWorks will continue to update this story as more information becomes available. 

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