FALL RIVER, Mass. — A 9-year-old boy told two lifeguards that a woman had not resurfaced after entering the murky waters of a public swimming pool and appearing to struggle, his mother said.
The body of 36-year-old Marie Joseph was found in the Veterans Memorial Pool two days later, on Tuesday night. Officials have been investigating how she could have been in the pool for so long without being noticed.
The boy’s mother told the Boston Herald for its Sunday edition that the woman had bumped into her son on a pool slide before she disappeared underwater.
“He did tell two lifeguards — one said she was on break, and had to leave and the other told him they were going to do a pool check,” the woman told the newspaper. “But he told me they never did.”
The Associated Press, which does not report the names of children who may be witnesses to a crime, is not identifying the woman to protect the privacy of her son.
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation is investigating issues related to Joseph’s death, including the clarity of the pool water and whether quality protocols were followed. No one has been charged in the drowning.
His mother said her son is undergoing counseling.
The Fall River pool is 12 feet deep and employs 12 staffers, six of whom are lifeguards and are certified by the Red Cross. All six were on duty last Sunday, the Herald reported.
“Those lifeguards need to be fired,” the boy’s mother told the Herald. “He’s stressed out. He keeps crying, and he thinks he could have saved this lady.”
The medical examiner’s office has labeled the death an accidental drowning.
Commissioner Edward M. Lambert Jr. with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation said they don’t know whether any of the lifeguards looked for Lambert.
“We hope to learn that from the investigation,” Lambert said. “We are as anxious as anybody to get answers to this.”
An initial investigation showed the water in the pool was murky from the time the pool opened for the season last Saturday. Visibility tests conducted Wednesday revealed a diver couldn’t be seen at a depth of 3 1/2 to 4 feet below the surface of the water.
Joseph was a hotel housekeeper in Newport, R.I. She was from Haiti and had five children. Her body was discovered after it floated to the surface shortly before some youngsters sneaked into the pool for a clandestine swim Tuesday night.