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No Charges in Swimming Pool Drowning

September 21, 1995

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ No charges will be filed in the drowning of a 12-year-old boy despite testimony that a lifeguard ignored a report that there was a body in the pool, a coroner ruled Wednesday.

``My heart goes out to the family members of Howard Jennings (but) I cannot say that there is any criminal conduct involved on anyone’s part,″ Allegheny County Chief Deputy Coroner Arthur Gilkes said after a three-hour inquest.

Howard’s body exhibited signs of rigor mortis when it was pulled from the pool at the Shadyside Boys’ and Girls’ Club on July 18, prompting suspicion that it had been in the water for more than 20 minutes.

Conflicting testimony cast doubt on what happened when lifeguards were told that someone was in trouble, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Conrad said.

Anthony Kresak, 13, testified that he spotted the boy on the bottom of the pool during the first swim session, and that he, his 9-year-old brother, Matthew, and a girl told a lifeguard about that the boy was there.

``He said, `Go get him yourself,‴ Anthony testified.

About 45 minutes later, during the second swim session, someone informed a different lifeguard that a body was on the bottom of the pool. That lifeguard then pulled Howard out.

However lifeguard Steve Dubinion, 16, testified that the younger Kresak informed him that he had lost his goggles in the deep end _ not that a body was in the water.

``The older brother was with him, and he offered to get them out,″ Dubinion said. He testified he agreed and watched as Anthony fetched the goggles.

No one said anything about a body being in the water until the second session, Dubinion testified.

The real issue, according to a lawyer for the Howard’s parents, is not how long his body was in the water, but why no one saw him drown.

Attorney Neil Rosen said Howard Jennings and Chaun Williams plan to sue the club over their son’s death.

The boy, who had limited use of his right arm because of an injury that occurred at birth, had not passed a test to swim in deep water and the lifeguards should have kept him in the shallow end of the pool, Rosen said.

Mike Hepler, president and chief executive officer of the club, said the club was in complied with regulations about the ratio of lifeguards to children. That question had been raised by the coroner.

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