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Boy, 3, drowns at Kalahari water park in Ohio
Boy drowns at Kalahari's Sandusky resort


Date published: 8/4/2009

BY EMILY BATTLE

A 3-year-old boy drowned Sunday afternoon in an outdoor pool at Kalahari Resorts' Sandusky, Ohio, water park.

The boy was discovered by a lifeguard in about 3 feet of water and pulled from the pool, according to the Associated Press. Efforts by resort staff and emergency services workers to resuscitate the boy were unsuccessful.

The Erie County coroner said the drowning appeared to be an accident, the AP reported.

Kalahari spokeswoman Carrie Leum said the incident is the first drowning at any Kalahari resort.

Kalahari's first resort opened in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., in 2002. The company then opened a second resort in Sandusky in 2005.

Kalahari plans to build a third resort with indoor and outdoor water parks in Fredericksburg's Celebrate Virginia complex.

An opening date is unclear as the company seeks financing for the more than $250 million project, which Fredericksburg lured with a $61 million incentives package.

The AP reported that the state of Ohio has taken disciplinary action against Kalahari at least five times since the resort opened in 2005.

Daylene Stroebe, director of water park safety and compliance for Kalahari, said yesterday that the Ohio Department of Agriculture sent inspectors to Kalahari in March of 2008 and wrote five citations.

"I am not about to make excuses, because there aren't any," she said. "We made some immediate staffing changes and immediately came into compliance. Numerous inspections later we have worked really hard to build a good reputation with the state."

Stroebe said that the park has not been cited for any violations at its Wisconsin location.

According to a report in the Toledo Blade, Erie County Sheriff's officials said the boy who drowned Sunday was reported to have been with his mother at an outdoor children's play area that includes splashing water.

The mother lost sight of the boy and contacted resort security. She was looking for him when the lifeguard found him in the pool, sheriff's officials said.

Kalahari Resorts issued a statement Sunday offering "sincere and heartfelt condolences" to the boy's family. The company also pledged to cooperate with local authorities investigating the incident.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com