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2 more water mishaps reported around state

Troopers offer swim safety tips

State Trooper Mike Josti demonstrated ways to help people who are in distress in the water. State Trooper Mike Josti demonstrated ways to help people who are in distress in the water. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / July 15, 2011

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Shortly before a 7-year-old boy nearly drowned in a pool and another serious incident occurred at a swimming area yesterday, authorities gave out water safety tips in response to recent drownings around the state.

State Police discussed the precautions about an hour before the boy nearly drowned in Shrewsbury, authorities said.

Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for the Worcester district attorney’s office, said the near-drowning occurred at about 2 p.m. in the pool at St. John’s High School on Main Street. He said the child was taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

His condition could not immediately be determined. Jarvey said the Catholic school operates a summer camp that uses the pool.

In a statement, St. John’s said an accident occurred while the boy was participating in swimming activities in the pool. The school said three certified lifeguards “took action’’ and CPR was performed on the child.

About an hour after the near-drowning, lifeguards at a town-operated pond in Island Grove Park in Abington removed a 19-year-old man from the water who may have suffered neck and back injuries, Fire Chief John Nuttall said.

He said the man, whom he declined to identify, was conscious and alert when rescuers arrived and he was taken by MedFlight to Massachusetts General Hospital. Nuttall had no information on the man’s condition or how he was injured.

He confirmed that the victim is a lifeguard at the pond, but could not say whether he was on duty at the time of the incident.

The incidents yesterday followed a series of recent water-related deaths, including the drownings of children in pools in Lynnfield, Groton, and Attleboro, according to State Police.

Troopers also recently responded to the drownings of a 19-year-old man in a lake in Southwick, a 14-year-old boy in the Chicopee River, a 67-year-old woman at Revere Beach, and a 47-year-old man in Marion Harbor, State Police said.

Authorities are also investigating the June 26 drowning of Marie Joseph, 36, at a state-run pool in Fall River. Her body apparently remained undetected in the pool for more than 48 hours.

State Police spokesman David Procopio said that in response to the recent drownings, troopers in the agency’s Underwater Recovery Unit gave a rescue demonstration yesterday at a pier in Boston’s North End, throwing flotation devices, long poles, and items commonly found on boats, such as coolers, to swimmers in distress.

He said people can use these items to give swimmers a lifeline, but they should always call 911 at the first sign of trouble.

Procopio said State Police are urging the public to take several other precautions, including keeping a constant eye on children who are swimming, enrolling children and adults in swimming lessons, and never swimming alone.

He said people should always swim where lifeguards are present, avoid swimming or operating a boat after consuming alcohol or drugs, and keep pool water clean to maintain maximum visibility, among other safety tips.

State Police Sergeant Matthew Murray, another spokesman, said private pools should be fenced in, and alarms should be placed on sliding glass doors to alert homeowners when children enter pool areas unattended.

He said water sensor alarms will also alert pool owners to a sudden change in water pressure, often caused by a child falling into the pool.

Globe correspondent Amanda Cedrone contributed to this report. Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.