MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 6-year-old girl died Sunday in an apparent drowning at Lake Elmo, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies responded at about 1:17 p.m. to the Washington County Park Reserve swimming beach at Lake Elmo on a report that a 6-year-old girl had been pulled from the water and wasn’t breathing. Resuscitation efforts were made on the victim at the scene.
The girl was taken to Regions Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The name of the girl has not been released.
On a sun-filled afternoon at the Lake Elmo Swimming Pond, families were enjoying a splash of summer.
But Korwin Schmidt and many other parents had no idea that hours earlier, the fun times on the beach took a frightening turn.
“It kind of makes me sad and it kind of scares me a little bit because our oldest son is 6 years old. Kind of hits home,” he said.
Swim pond rules state all children 6 years old and under must be accompanied by an adult when in the water. Those older than six must be watched by an adult in the water or from the sand.
Parent Marie Chinanga wouldn’t let her kids jump in the pond while her back was turned.
“Safety, safety, safety,” she repeated. “We hear so many children drown every year, so you don’t want to be that victim. I’m a nurse. I (took) care of a little boy who drown like five years ago in a lake. So that makes me as a parent really scared so I have to, I have to watch.”
Lifeguard stands surround the water, however none had life guards in them. Schmidt said it was a surprising sight because a few years ago, he was used to seeing several lifeguards.
“We saw the one (lifeguard), one walking around but that’s it,” he said.
While at the beach, WCCO saw at least one lifeguard walking around. Investigators couldn’t immediately say how many lifeguards were one duty at the time, but witnesses said they saw at least one trying to perform CPR on the child.
WCCO called the Lake Elmo park manager to find out how many lifeguards were on duty this weekend, but the call wasn’t immediately returned Sunday night. Despite the apparent lack of lifeguards, most parents said they feel safe bringing their children to the swimming pond.
The deepest portion of the pond is four feet.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by Lake Elmo Rescue, Lakeview Ambulance, the Woodbury Police Department and staff at Lake Elmo Reserve. The sheriff’s office is investigating what led up to the drowning, with assistance from the Washington County Parks Department.