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Published: 7/6/2004

City pools vulnerable to resolute trespassers

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two days after a Toledo boy nearly drowned in a city pool into which he and a friend apparently sneaked, a city official acknowledged that the city can go only so far to stop late-night trespassers.

"We can keep the areas as secure as possible," said Kattie Bonds, Toledo's director of parks, recreation, and forestry. But "if [trespassers] really want to get in, they can."

Late Saturday, fire crews were called to the city pool, 910 Dorr St., near Smith Park. There, Kenneth James, 15, whose family said he was a student at Toledo Accelerated Academy, had been pulled from the bottom of the pool, where the water was about 12 feet deep.

Police said he and at least one other boy apparently broke into the pool. Just before midnight, one of the boys ran to a nearby residence asking for help.

"This kid said, 'Call 911, there's someone in the pool,'" Sgt. Tim Noble said.

Yesterday, young James' family gathered by his bedside at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition, and his home, 1018 Norwood Ave., where they said he's a cheerful, outgoing teen.

"It's devastating," said his uncle, David James. "It could have been a dare someone gave to him, and he didn't want to back down.

"But by the same token, this is a wake-up call for other kids," he continued. "This should be a learning experience about the choices we make in life - some good and some bad."

Though someone had broken in and vandalized rest rooms and the office area, it was not clear that young James was involved in that, Ms. Bond noted.

She said youths from time to time break into the city's 11 pools and damage property or throw garbage in the water. Generally, she said, they do not go swimming.

"My heart goes out to this family," Ms. Bond said. "Again, we need to warn these kids: They have to stay out of the pool area [after hours]."



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