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Roof Collapse Injures Kids at YMCA Pool

September 19, 1989

BOSTON (AP) _ A section of roof over a YMCA swimming pool collapsed on a preschool swimming class while horrified parents watched, and seven children and a lifeguard were injured.

Authorities said they didn’t know what caused chunks of concrete, tar and roofing stone to cascade into the pool Monday.

″We were looking through a picture window down the other end, and then the whole roof over the shallow end just came down in one piece,″ said John Welch, whose son, Michael, was not injured in the accident.

The collapse left a jagged 20-by-15 foot hole in the roof of the brick building.

Lifeguard David Bortolotto, 18, who was hit in the head by a piece of debris, and Ellenmarie Joyce, the aquatic programs director, rushed to rescue the children, aged 3 to 6, from the pool.

Police Superintendent Gerard McHale called Bortolotto ″a real superstar. He collapsed after he got the kids out.″

Bortolotto and swimming student Tracey Blasenheim, 4, were the most seriously injured. Bortolotto was in stable condition and Blasenheim was in serious condition with a depressed skull fracture and abdominal injuries.

Stuart E. Robbins, the West Roxbury YMCA treasurer, said moisture and humidity in the pool area may have weakened the concrete roof decking and possibly led to the collapse.

He said the roof was inspected in 1984 and 1987. Another section of the building was inspected this summer after rainwater was found to be leaking from the ceiling into an office.

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