4-Year-Old Drowning Victim Was at Pool With Child Care Center

Public safety officials continue to investigate the death of 4-year-old Vincente Cardenas. The victim was one of 19 children on a trip to Roosevelt Pool in Glenview with Glenview-based Wesley Child Care Center.


The 4-year-old boywas part of a group of children from a local child care center visiting the Park District facility.

Vincente Cardenas was one of 19 children visiting Roosevelt Pool, 2239 Fir St., from Glenview-based Wesley Child Care Center, said Ellen Fagerburg, Wesley’s executive director.

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When Patch spoke with Fagerburg Saturday night, she would not discuss the circumstances surrounding Cardenas’ death.

“Everything is under review,” she told Patch.

According to Fagerburg, eight counselors were on hand to accompany the children at Roosevelt Pool, where the childcare agency has been taking campers for more than 20 years.

Lifeguards unsuccessfully administered CPR before Cardenas was transported to Glenbrook Hospital, according to Glenview Park District officials.

Park District Executive Director Chuck Balling said a full set of lifeguards were on duty Friday, but would not specify how many.

All lifeguards go through an extensive training and certification program, Balling added.

The pool was closed Saturday and will remain closed Sunday, according to information posted on the Park District website.

For its part, Wesley will have crisis counselors available to staff and parents on Monday, Fagerburg told Patch.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of this child,” Fagerburg said. “It is a terrible tragedy for the Cardenas family, Wesley and the village
of Glenview.”

In a letter sent to parents today, Fagerburg shared the agency’s condolences.

“Our immediate focus is on aiding the Cardenas family with this tragic loss,” Fagerburg wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Vincente’s
parents, family and friends during this time. ... We extend our deepest sympathies to those within the Wesley community who have also been affected.”

Glenview community mourns

Meanwhile, Glenview community members reacted Saturday to the death.

“Our hearts and our prayers go out to the family in this terrible tragedy,” said Village President Kerry Cummings. “The Glenview community as a whole is saddened by this and will support the family and friends and those who have been touched by this.”

Readers weighed in on Patch, sharing sympathies and first-hand accounts of the tragedy.  

"I was there when this all went down," wrote Elena Maciel. "It was sickening then just watching [the lifeguards] trying CPR on the boy and it is very sad to now know that he has gone. I just remember everyone's shocked faces. it just so unbelievable. He was so young and five days away from his birthday. My heart goes out to his family."

in some cases, readers questioned how something like this could happen.

“Those camp counselors must not have been watching him otherwise how did he end up unsupervised in the deep end of the pool?!?,” said reader KellyK. “Why didn't the lifeguards notice a four-year old in the deep end? It's such a tragedy that could have been avoided if the adults in charge of his care would have been paying attention!”

Other readers, including SuburbanMary, shared an alternate perspective.

“As a former lifeguard, I can tell you that responding to such an emergency is
gut-wrenching and traumatic for all involved, but we are taught to keep a level
head and begin life-saving measures until paramedics arrive,” she wrote.
“Please do not point the finger at the lifeguards in this situation. Lifeguards
are not babysitters nor are they there to supervise anyone's children.”

Fire and police officials continue to investigate the incident. Stay tuned to Patch for more details as they become available.

Brianna gogvinsky June 18, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I know this little boy he was my moms friends son, and when I heard that one of my good friends brother (his sister) died? I was sooo upset I even started to cry poor family. God bless you Vincente
Veronica June 18, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I feel so sorry for this tragedy and my heart goes out to his family. They will be in my thoughts more than they can imagine. Terrible, terrible sad loss. I always was impressed by the care and seriousness with which the lifeguard crew watched the pool but in this type of field trips, I think it's just impossible with so many kids without their parents to keep an eye on everybody at all times. It takes a few seconds for this tragedy to occur. I would believe that both lifeguards and daycare center staff were all doing their jobs and caring for the children, but these group trips to a pool are just a bad idea. Too many too little kids with too few adults watching over them, no matter if they are lifeguards or daycare center staff. Finally, I do wonder, was this child wearing a life jacket? There are plenty at Roosevelt pool...and in this type of scenarios, they should be mandatory. Otherwise, these type of group trips should not be allowed at all. Period. So sad.
Mark Stelios June 18, 2012 at 05:56 PM
@Mom - I've read a couple of your posts on articles related to this tragedy. Please take a moment to review your comments before posting... perhaps thinking about perceptions. Your comments come off as extremely insensitive going so far as to even blame the poor parents for their day care selection. It's great that you made a better choice for your children and if you're looking for a pat on the back please accept my nodding approval as just that and stop trolling and posting on these boards for further affirmation of what a great "Mom" you are...
Mom June 18, 2012 at 06:24 PM
No, I feel this will happen again unless something changes. I'm putting it out there to PLEASE parents don't let kids go blindly to pools...check it out. If there isn't a separate baby pool, it's a no go. Anyone who needs to be in the shallow end NEEDS a physical barrier. And day cares, too, THINK! I see this daycare planned to take these little kids all over and even downtown, and even to the beach! Now, that should raise red flags. I know they had good intentions...but it's not appropriate for that age B/C OF WHAT HAPPENED. I hope they can learn. You have to be very strict about water, and avoid any situation where a kid can wander out too deep.
Mom June 18, 2012 at 06:54 PM
It's not insensitive to suggest that this is something that could easily have been prevented. Parents need to check where centers are sending their kids; if it's a pool with a deep end and a 4-year-old, that's irresponsible to allow it or not to even check. Daycares need to not go to situations that invite these kinds of accidents; it's irresponsible of them to have gone there. And the lifeguards didn't do their job, either. A kid died. But you can't blame any one person or group. They all failed. I'm saying that if you are a parent and enrolling in daycare, make sure you are comfortable with where the child is going if it involves water.
Maria Toth June 18, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Lifeguards are hired and trained to respond to aquatic emergencies. Period. They are not babysitters and are not in the chair to supervise your child during an outing at the pool. The job of supervision belongs to the child's parent or an adult who is accompanying a child to the pool. Young children should never be out of arm's reach of an adult while they are in the pool. Adults need to be vigilant, especially when there are many patrons at a pool. Too many pool-goers have become complacent, thinking the lifeguards on duty will watch their kids for them. This is grossly unfair to the lifeguards.
Kathy Ruhnke June 18, 2012 at 08:28 PM
What a heartbreaking story; my sympathies go out to the family. It is for just this reason I am hesitant to enroll my daughter in summer camp. Most of them have pool outings, and she cannot swim. The burden is on daycare and camp supervisors to be vigilant over the children in their charge. I am just not willing to entrust my daughter's safety in water to them.
Mom June 18, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Kathy, thank you! You are the parents I am talking about that are dong the right thing. You realize your daughter cannot swim and you've made the wise decision not to enroll her (especially in a pool that has water over her head), preventing her from drowning at camp. It starts with the parents. I hope you can find camps that meet your needs w/o swimming.
Tracy M June 18, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Please know that yes, this is a horrific and tragic event. But I think it is important for everyone to read this article. This could have happened anywhere - in any depth of pool. We all need to be aware that "drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life...." read more at http://gcaptain.com/drowning/?10981
Sarah June 19, 2012 at 01:45 AM
A deep end is not the issue. There could be thousands of reasons this happened, but a child could drown with as little as a tablespoon of water. You are indeed being incredibly insensitive and if multiple people are telling you this maybe you should stop posting hurtful comments. Vincente you are loved by so many god bless you.
Val Gurvits June 19, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Hello, My name is Val Gurvits. I am Vicente’s uncle and am the family’s spokesman. First, the family would like to express our gratitude for all the warm words of sympathy during this tragedy. As you would imagine, the family is devastated. Also, I would like to hear from people who were at the pool that day. We have received surprisingly (and disappointingly) little information from the school regarding the events that lead up to Vicente’s death. We have heard that the pool was overcrowded, but are still trying to piece together what happened. If you were there, please call me at 617-928-1804 or email me at vgurvits@bostonlawgroup.com.
mom glenview June 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I am a mom of 2 boys 6 and 9. My kids are great swimmers, but i would never allow my kids to go to a camp that takes a child to a pool. I have been going to Roosevelt for 36 years .I was 9. It wasn't ever crowed like that before. i avoid taking my kids when camps are at the pool.so i would go either before or after they leave. Its unfortunate and an inconvenience that i have to work around that schedule. My kids can barely swim due to the amount of people.I have my eyes on them 100% of the time,because i am worried that its so crowed . Its hard enough for me to watch my two kids that i cant even imagine why that boy was found so late i would believe. I feel for this poor family, and something must be done with.
Mom June 19, 2012 at 01:02 PM
While a child can drown in a small amount of water, yes, the drownings that have happened over the years (with camps) have been a child wandering out into the deep end and nobody noticed; wandering from their childcare group or silently slipping away. You can't prevent all accidents, but if you get rid of having kids near or in pools that have a deep end, you prevent a lot of this. The 5-year-old from Prospect Heights Park District (1997) who drowned at day camp was similar...he got into a deep end, even bypassed a fence. Taking kids to places with a deep pool should not be allowed. Why risk that? It's simply too many kids to watch and too crowded, too much risk.
Concerned parent June 19, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I'd like to know if ANYONE responsible for Vincente's care that day was making more than minimum wage. My guess is no. Underpaid child care workers with frequent turn-over don't care that much about the kids they are watching. 16/17 year old lifeguards making minimum wage can't possibly do as good of a job as an older better paid person with a longer attention span. The the day care center owner is wealthy from the extremely pricey tuition. The park district is making big money from the price it charges the hundreds of people they allow in the overcrowded pool - and how could it possibly be safe for the allowed number of people in the pool to be over 500? The pool is not that big. When crowded I've seen the pool like a jar of tadpoles, kids swimming on top of other kids, kids jumping onto other kids. No responsible day care center should have taken kids there and no responsible park district would allow so many people in the pool "guarded" by high school age lifeguards who are likely hungover and exhausted from late nights. Parents depend on the day care center to safely handle their precious, vulnerable children. This day care center let the child down in the most horrible way. Then the pool let the child down again. Who was there to fight for Vincente? I'm sure his loving parents did all the due diligence they could to check out the day care. I'm sure they heard many wonderful things. There is blood on the day care's hands and the park district's.
Concerned parent June 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM
And also, Mr. Gurvits - my heart goes out to you and I'm so so sorry for your terrible loss. I hope you are planning to sue all the negligent parties involved.
bill gorski June 19, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Thank you Mark
Person June 19, 2012 at 03:45 PM
The daycare won't talk? They are so guilty it's not even funny. Look at where they planned to take the little kids this summer. Water park galore, including a beach! What were they thinking? I too am a concerned parent. No daycare in its right mind would take small children to a crowded pool like that. And parents do have the responsibility to make sure their daycare avoids water outings like this. The reason the lifeguards didn't see this was because nobody could notice a drowning in the crowded chaos, from what I hear. I certainly hope things change. Camps should not be taking kids to swim. Touch supervision by parents, or forget it. The fact that Wesley child care isn't even cooperating makes me sad. Their website doesn't even have a tribute to their own child they lost...just has info about how to pay online for the tuition. ! Makes me mad.
Glenview Mom June 19, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I read in the Chicago Trubune today (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/glenview/ct-met-glenview-drowning-0619-2-20120619,0,1341316.story) that "Park District officials said 12 lifeguards were stationed around the pool Friday. They also said children in district camps are required to take a swimming test and must wear life jackets at the pool if they fail. Independent summer camps with contracts to use district pools must meet the same requirement." I do not believe a part about mandatory life jackets is true. My kids go to the summer camp each year and when they were little and failed swimming tests, they were NOT ALLOWED to wear life jackets by their camp conselors. The Roosevelt pool personnel did not enforce wearing life jackets either.
Person June 19, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Life jackets are dangerous in shallow water. Child can fall over and get stuck face down. If my small child is going to a pool, either it's deep enough for a lifejacket (and he wears it), or he's in a kiddie pool with NO lifejacket. Otherwise he does not go. I think Roosevelt would be a dangerous choice for life jackets given the way their pool is set up.
Mom June 19, 2012 at 07:15 PM
My family was present the day Vicente passed away. I read the same article and called both the park district and my childs day care. The first girl I talked to at the Park District said yes, vests are a requirement, then I was transferred to someone else who said that NO, vest are not required by all, only "suggested". I was informed that there are too many children to swim test and they would not have enough time to swim! This answer is unsatisfactory as well as the numerous field trips for such young children. Horrible things can happen anywhere, the point is to minimize as much risk as possible. As a parent I no longer feel very safe in allowing my child to participate in many daycare activities. We must try to come to an understandable and clear revision of many current standards of care accross the board. I sincerely hope the community will continue to come together and help facilitate an acceptable resolution in Vicente's name and memory.
Person June 19, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Wesley's site says this..."We're proud that parents consider Wesley a permanent choice for their child care needs. They appreciate our experienced teachers and low turnover, and they know and trust our services. Wesley is an active member of the Glenview community!" I can't get over that, because I agree with the comments that a trusted childcare service would not take children to a crowded pool like that.
Sandy Lynn June 19, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I have seen day camp groups of children at Centennial in Wilmette and the lack of supervision by the counselors in general is terrifying. I suspect they think they are off duty because the lifeguards are there. The pools are mobbed and the lifeguards are no substitute for parental/caregiver supervision. My sister-in-law saved a small boy's life in the wading pool at Centennial because the lifeguard couldn't see him, so it is not sufficient protection to simply take a small child to wading pool - they can drown just about anywhere and the caregivers must stay alert.
A Human Being June 22, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Kids do take swim tests for camps and if they cannot swim a certain length, they are put in a life jacket whether they like it or not. I am a lifeguard so I want to clear that up.
A Human Being June 22, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Hey I just want to set something straight. I am a lifeguard and I'm am quite frankly getting pissed off at these comments that are insulting a lifeguards job and the job that they did in this situation. Just for all of you parents information, WE-ARE-NOT-BABYSITTERS. Just today, I was guarding and a mom was sitting on the chair paying attention only to her iPhone when her two LITTLE kids were misusing the slide dangerously. Our job is to enforce rules (one of which includes ADULTS MUST BE A ARMS LENGTH OF THEIR CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES) and handle emergencies. So the commenter who said that us lifeguards are just some 'high schoolers who are probably hung over and tired'...SCREW-YOU. We take our job seriously and if it weren't for YOUR bad parenting of not keeping track of your child, we wouldn't even need to be there! So to parents, your children are YOUR responsibility. In addition, Camp Counselors need to keep an eye on their kid. Us as lifeguards go through LONG, EXTENSIVE, REPETITIVE training. Do camp counselors get any training? Don't think so. One more thing to add about our training as lifeguards, we have a child mannequin that managers unexpectedly throw into the pool and we have to react as if it were real. So we are constantly for going training on a daily basis--CPR included. So theres a lifeguards point of view. I do not work at Roosevelt but I know for a fact that is universal in surrounding towns.
Glenview Parent June 23, 2012 at 01:01 PM
To a human being, please be specific, not ALL camp children are tested and put in vests if they fail. SOME children are tested, not all. Vicente could not swim, had no vest and drowned. I have read statistics on swimming deaths and the most preventative measures include "touch supervision" meaning no more then an ARMS length from caregiver, parent or otherwise AND a life vest. I found no statistics on drownings while wearing a life vest. Finally a physical barrier surrounding deep water pools. Four sided barriers were noted to be much safer then even a three sided barrier. The people documenting these incidents are taking everything possible into consideration. As we become aware and learn better ways let us work on solutions for prevention. I am happy to hear camps are suspended for the rest of 2012 & my concern is the current ratio and staffs ability to remain within touch length of 5-10 children. It can be done as I myself have done it. A serious and all consuming responsibility.
Glenview Parent June 23, 2012 at 01:11 PM
To the lifeguard, your anger is understandable. Unfortunately, caregivers, parents, lifeguards and others are human. Some are more vigilent then others. Most people have joined in conversations, even brief distractions can be enough for something to happen to anyone. I have witnessed flirting and conversations occuring this last week by lifeguards at a Glenview pool. While your title is not "babysitter" your title implies you stand guard at our pools, look for those in trouble and rescue them! You may be an excellent lifeguard and if so please continue to guard our pools and never hesitate to remind any caregiver of touch supervision, life vest availability or the areas to avoid for non swimmers. Peace.
Laura Clark June 23, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Thank you Maria, you said it perfectly.
Laura Clark June 23, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Very nicely said.
Laura Clark June 23, 2012 at 02:43 PM
This is a horrible tragedy for all involved. Everyone needs to step back and think about that. This is the absolute worst for the parents. They will never get over it. It also affects everyone else involved also. The camp counselors will live with this and wonder if they were watching the kids to the best of their abilities, the lifeguards will live with the for the rest of their lives wondering "what if", the pool manager will live with this as well as the Aquatic manager. Everyone needs to stop pointing fingers, learn something from the experience and have a little compassion for all involved. This is a tragedy, the kind of all. Everyone that walks into a pool is a potential risk, Water is fun but can be dangerous. Everyone needs to take caution. It only takes 30 seconds for someone to go unconscious with water in their lungs, for a child this can happen much quicker. Don't blame anyone for not doing their job, you don't know what happened. Just remember that it is a tragedy for all involved and again they are the ones that will live with this experience for the rest of their lives. They don't need "the monday morning quaterbacks" second guessing what they did or decisions they made. Let them all from the parents to the camp to the aquatic facility grieve this tragedy and sort it out. If you have never sat in a lifeguard chair or been a camp counselor you really don't have any room to comment on their actions.
Tynia (Tiny July 02, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Some times our young ones are called home early just no GOD makes no mistakes i no its hard to digest right now but no that alot of people are praying for ur family including me, my heart go out to the cardenas) God Bless the family


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