A Georgia mom is campaigning for more regulation around swimming lessons after her four-year-old son died in the pool after earlier asking her ‘what if I drown?’
Dori Scott’s son Israel was found unconscious after his swimming lesson on June 14 in a swimming pool in Hephzibah, 15 miles south of Augusta, Georgia.
The little boy had expressed an interest in learning to swim while on vacation, so Scott booked her boy for lessons with Lexie TenHuisen, a qualified instructor with nearly 50 years of experience found them on Facebook.
On June 13, she posted a photo of Israel in his swimming trunks by the pool, with the caption: “My big boys first day of swimming lessons. He said he’s a little nervous.’
Israel Scott, age four, drowned during his second swimming lesson in June in a private pool in Hephzibah, Georgia
Dori Scott posted this photo of her son the day before he drowned
Dori Scott is pictured with her sons Israel and Noah, his little brother
Scott described her son’s fear of the second lesson the next day.
“When I was dressing him, he said ‘why am I wearing that?'” she said The mirror.
“I told him he had swimming lessons and he said, ‘I don’t want to go’, but he was in a good mood.
“He asked ‘but what if I drown’ and I said ‘you’re not going to drown, crazy’ and he laughed it off.”
Scott said she left her son with the instructor and, as requested, left the pool to sit in her car and wait for him.
‘[The instructor] told me the parents weren’t allowed to stay because I think the kids weren’t acting right,” Scott explained.
Israel is depicted posing by a swimming pool. The little boy told his mother he was nervous about the lessons
The Scott family – from left: Israel, his mother Dori; Paris; Noah; and their father, Walt
‘I was waiting in my car and got a knock on my window [from a parent] say ‘come and get your baby’.
“It wasn’t time—they had about six minutes left. I looked at her again and saw tears in her eyes.
“Then I started screaming because I thought something was wrong.
“My whole life has changed in no time.”
Scott said she ran through the gates in a panic and found her unconscious son by the pool doing CPR and foaming at the mouth.
She said, “I cried and screamed all the way up there and when I got there, my son was at the edge of the pool while they were doing CPR. He didn’t respond.
“I could tell from him that he had been underwater for a while because he was foaming at the mouth and had no heartbeat.
“I asked the swim instructor what had happened and all she could say was she didn’t know.
‘ She said, ‘I don’t know. I told the kids to get out of the pool. I don’t know’.
“I was standing by the pool screaming ‘let me hold my baby’. Of course I wasn’t allowed to hold him because they were doing CPR and chest compressions.’
Israel was taken to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Scott, mother of three-year-old Noah and daughter Paris, 12, said she never received an apology from TenHuisen.
“It was a mother’s worst nightmare,” she said. “It’s unbelievable and shocking.”
Lexie TenHuisen (photo) has been teaching children to swim for almost 50 years
Israel is seen playing in the water. His mom said he loved to swim on vacation and wanted to take lessons at home
In September, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office concluded that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the swim instructor for wrongdoing.
TenHuisen told authorities she had made sure all the children were out of the pool before she got out.
She said she instructed the ten children in the class to swim the width of the shallow end of the pool before making sure to get them out.
Mason Washington, another student in the class, said Israel got out of the pool in front of him after the last lap, but 10 seconds later he heard a splash.
Washington believes Israel jumped off the diving board, though he didn’t see him jump. Washington said Israel had accidentally climbed the diving board on the first day of class, Atlanta Black Star reported.
TenHuisen was waiting for the students of the next class who all came in when her granddaughter saw the boy at the bottom of the pool.
There may have been “some negligence” on the part of the instructor, but “it was determined that the case contains insufficient evidence to prove criminal negligence.”
Alfonzo Williams, the sheriff, said in a statement, “As a result, we cannot proceed with this case.”
The case has been handed over to the public prosecutor for further investigation.
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