Parks department to look at options after teen drowns

Parks department to look at options after teen drowns »Play Video
Plenty of children were swimming in Klineline Park Monday but none was wearing a life jacket after a teenager drowned Saturday.

VANCOUVER, Wash. - Parents at a popular Clark County pond say they want lifeguards back after a teenager drowned over the weekend.

Other swimmers pulled 13-year-old DiMaggio Lee from Klineline Pond Saturday but he died.

On a busy summer weekend three years ago there used to be 12 lifeguards patrolling the pond eight hours a day, seven days a week, but they were eliminated because of budget cuts. Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation slashed more than $1 million, including the $72,000 spent on lifeguards.

"We went through an extraordinarily difficult budget process. A number of impacts to many services," said Dave Perlick, the budget manager for Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation. "This is a decision that had to be made in order to keep the majority of the facilities open."

Perlick was involved in the decision to eliminate lifeguards at Klineline.

After the drowning, Perlick said they’ll look at making changes to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

"It's very difficult. I was called on Saturday and was out there, and I saw some of the family members. I can't tell you how much all of our heart goes out to the family," he said. "We're certainly going to take a really close look at what happened, what were the exact details and what some of variables and some of the options that we might have."

The options would be limited. The county would need to pass an official budget action.

To a question as to whether lifeguards should come back to Klineline, Perlick said he couldn’t answer that question.

"It's a community value and resource decision," he said. "We've got to have some serious discussions about whether that's something that the community desires and can afford at this time."

New this year at the pond is a shed that contains life vests. The county wants families to take a life vest and borrow it for the day; however, on Monday there were plenty of children swimming in the pond but none were wearing life vests.