Saturday, March 30, 2002

Girl drowns in hotel indoor pool

Was guest at birthday celebration

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

        FORT MITCHELL — Kaylyn Kalb was doing what she loved Thursday evening, being around people, talking and swimming with her friends at a birthday party.

        But no one saw the 7-year-old Covington girl, a second-grader at Ludlow Elementary School, sink under the water in the deep end of the indoor pool at the Drawbridge Villager Premier Hotel. Fort Mitchell Police Sgt. Tom Loos said Kaylyn died about 8:20 p.m. Thursday at Children's Hospital.

Kaylyn Kalb
Kaylyn Kalb
        “She was a happy child,” said Kaylyn's mother, Sherry Kalb. “She loved to talk, she loved to be around people.”

        Arnie Creinin, Drawbridge vice president and managing director, said a family that had checked in must have invited guests to the pool.

        “We had no knowledge of a party that was going to happen,” Mr. Creinin said. “All we know is, a family checked in ... It doesn't bring her back. It was just a sad thing; you just think about the family.”

        Sgt. Loos said the host family was Tom Collins and his wife, Tracy. Mr. Collins was police chief in Ludlow from 1989-2001, but he retired in September and is now a Newport police officer.

        “Tom Collins was definitely there,” Sgt. Loos said. “The word (Thursday) night was that it was a birthday party for his daughter, Tommie.”

        Ms. Kalb said she dropped Kaylyn off at the Drawbridge about 6:15 p.m. Thursday.

        The Drawbridge indoor pool ranges in depth from 2-9 feet. Two outdoor pools are open during the summer, and those have lifeguards on duty.

        Julie Wischer, 22, has lived next door to the Kalbs on John Street for about two years. She often watched her 4-year-old niece, Catherine Wischer, play with Kaylyn.

        “She was very kind and very helpful,” Ms. Wischer said. “She wanted to help her mom do everything.”

        Joyce Mitchell of the Hamilton County Coroner's Office said an autopsy was performed Friday. She said the cause of death has not yetbeen determined.

        Kaylyn is the second child since 1996 to drown at the Drawbridge pool. Antron Hough, 16, of Richmond, Va., was part of a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps competition when he died in March 1996.

        Over the past 10 months, there have been three drownings in either hotel, private or park pools in the Tristate.

        Last June, 17-year old Robert King of Toledo, Ohio, drowned in the pool at the Preston Hotel in Sharonville, which has since closed. Others included a girl who died after being pulled from the pool at her Warren County home; and a Butler, Ky., man who drowned in a Campbell County park.

        Mr. Creinin said there are signs at the Drawbridge advising guests they swim at their own risk because there is no lifeguard on duty. The only hotel personnel around are attendants who are not trained in lifesaving techniques.

        The no-lifeguard setup is common at most local hotels with pools.

        Cindy Tieman, aquatics director at the American Red Cross office downtown, said hotel managers often cite staffing shortages as a reason for not providing attendants who have taken part in Red Cross water safety courses.

        According to Sgt. Loos, when police and emergency workers arrived about 6:45 p.m. Thursday there were “about 15 children in bathing suits” and about a dozen adults.

        And none of them had seen Kaylyn slip underneath the water.

        Sgt. Loos said she was underwater for three to five minutes. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed.

        Ms. Tieman said a person can drown within 20-60 seconds. She would not comment on Kaylyn's case specifically, but she was not surprised no one immediately missed her.

        “There were people there, but they weren't surveilling the pool,” Ms. Tieman said. “There may have been a dozen parents, but they were doing other, secondary things.”

        Sgt. Loos said there likely wouldn't be a criminal investigation into the accident because signs were present and no state law specifically addresses accidental drownings on private property.

        Funeral arrangements have not been made.


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