Philly Recreation Dept. ramping up pool safety precatutions for summer


The drowning death of seven year old Ja’briel O’Connor last July at a Philadelphia recreation center is spurring reforms.

City officials are rethinking safety at Philadelphia pools this summer.

Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis says the death of the seven-year-old who could not swim resulted in what he calls a tough time for the recreation department but the city has worked hard to learn from the tragedy. 

Recreation Department Deputy Commissioner for Programs Leo Dignam says all children from day camps will have their swimming skills assessed before they enter the pool.

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“We have made that mandatory at all of our pools and for all of those 255 outside daycares and camps as well as our 140 camps,” Dignam said. “All of those kids will be screened the first time they come in.”

Dingnam says if the children can’t swim they will be identified and extra safety precautions will be put in place.

“They will be identified as not being able to swim and we’ll rope off a section of the shallow end of the pool and make sure they stay in that area only,” he said.

Lifeguards from the pool and other staff will be responsible for monitoring those who cannot swim.

The boy’s family file a wrongful death lawsuit late last year against the city and the daycamp.


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