Witnesses describe drowning at Scarborough campground as ‘traumatizing’

Posted July 01, 2014, at 4:44 p.m.
Last modified July 02, 2014, at 8:24 a.m.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — A Portland man is dead after a day at the beach went terribly wrong.

Police said 45-year-old Giot Nguyen had been drinking and was swimming with family and friends Sunday, when he drowned trying to make it out to an island in the pond at Wassamki Springs campground in Scarborough.

South Portland residents Margaret Williams and Dani Boucher were two of the dozens of visitors who watched while the entire ordeal unfolded in front of them.

“It was very traumatizing,” Williams said. “I am still shaking.”

Williams and Boucher said their day at the beach quickly became a nightmare.

“When I closed my eyes to sleep last night, all I could see was his body lying on a kayak with a woman on top doing CPR,” Williams said.

Gorham police Lt. Chris Sanborn said Nguyen of Portland was drinking and was not wearing a life vest when he went underwater.

“He decided to swim out to the island and wasn’t able to make it,” Sanborn said.

Police said the man’s friends started CPR on the island.

Williams claimed she was the one to notify the one lifeguard on duty, who she said waited until first responders got there.

“They had no boat, no means to get out there quickly and help,” she said.

No one would talk to CBS13 News at Wassamki Springs, but over the phone, campground owner Richard Hillock said visitors sign a waiver to “swim at their own risk.”

Hillock also said there are signs warning people not to swim to the island.

Still, Boucher and Williams think more could’ve been done to help.

“The whole beach area plus the camping area, how is one lifeguard to have control of any of that,” Williams said. “I think more coverage would have made a difference.”

Hillock confirmed that there was a lifeguard on duty dealing with children in the water nearby. He said that by the time the guard realized there was trouble in the water, rescue teams were already on scene.

Gorham police said that in the wake of this unfortunate incident, they hope people can see how dangerous it is to drink while swimming or boating.

 

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