By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun
5:58 PM EDT, July 25, 2011
A report on the Fourth of July drowning of a 6-year-old Baltimore boy at Sandy Point State Park says that the youngster was more than two football fields away from his guardians and could not be seen because buildings blocked the view.
The review, released Monday by the Maryland Park Service, concluded that Sandy Point staff followed the beach management plan and correctly carried out search-and-rescue procedures.
"We are comfortable with our procedures, and we are confident they were followed," said Lt. Col. Chris Bushman, the park service deputy superintendent. "This was a tragedy, but there was nothing we could have done to prevent it from occurring."
SaQuan Kennedy was with his aunt, grandfather and other family members at the picnic area of the park along the Chesapeake Bay shortly before 8 a.m. He and other children, ages 6 to 9, wandered about 260 yards toward the beach and began playing with a ball.
Sightlines between the picnic area and water's edge are obscured by two buildings, trees and the crest of the beach. The area, shared by swimmers and anglers, is posted as being unguarded, the report said.
The children in the group told the adults that they had seen SaQuan in the water waving for help before disappearing. The adults searched for the boy for about 15 minutes before asking a park employee for help, the report said.
The children showed a park ranger where SaQuan went under and volunteers formed a chain and waded into the water to look for him. One of them found the boy floating about 140 yards north of where he had last been seen.
Park staff and Natural Resources Police officers began CPR, and emergency personnel detected a faint pulse. But SaQuan was pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center, the NRP said.
"We constantly remind our visitors to watch their children. A child playing near the water on a hot day will at some point end up in the water," said Bushman. "State parks are public places, and children need to be watched as they would in any other public place, such as a mall or amusement park."
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