Dayton mayor issues statement on drowning of boy, 6, in city pool

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 11:03 AM
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 6:45 PM

The family of a 6-year-old boy who died after drowning in a Dayton city-owned swimming pool wants answers about how long the boy was under water and why lifeguards were allegedly not watching the boy more closely.

UPDATE @ 6:45 p.m. (July 18): Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley read a statement during the city commission meeting regarding the death on Sunday of 6-year-old Niguel Hamilton after he was pulled Thursday evening from the indoor pool at the Lohrey Recreation Center.

“I want to take a moment to address the incident at Lohrey pool last week.

The Commission, administration, and staff, have been following closely since last Thursday. Our collective hearts and prayers have been with the Hamilton family during this incredibly difficult time. We have reached out to them and respect their request for privacy. 

We know the community wants answers. We want to know the circumstances surrounding this incident as much as everyone else. An investigation began immediately and will be ongoing during the coming weeks. It is too early to have details on the events of that night, but it is our commitment to the family, and the community, that this work will be thorough and complete. 

There is no greater loss than the loss of a child. It is our most sincere hope that the Hamilton family will find support in this community.”

UPDATE @ 5:53 p.m. (July 17): Niguel Hamilton’s family has retained the services of civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

Crump, who has represented the family of Trayvon Martin and taken on other high profile cases, was retained by the Hamilton family to “pursue justice,” according to a statement issued Tuesday. 

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“They don't understand how you have three certified swimming instructors and only four children in the pool, and yet you lose one of them,” Crump said of the family. “They're heartbroken, and they just are searching for answers.”

The Hamilton family was paying for swimming lessons at Lohrey Recreation Center to prevent exactly this kind of tragedy, Crump said. 

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The attorney was in town Tuesday and he said he’s helping the Hamilton family plan Niguel’s home-going celebrations this weekend. He said he also plans to push the city for an explanation of how the boy could have died. 

“The family has gotten no answers at this point,” Crump said. 

Niguel’s parents released a statement for the first time Tuesday: “No parent should ever have to endure such a preventable loss, and we want to make sure no other parents suffer a loss like this."

Crump added: "He had his whole life ahead of him. He never ever, ever, ever should have been taken this soon."

Services for Niguel are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Timothy Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton.

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INITIAL REPORT

The 6-year-old pulled from a Dayton pool last week has died, according to the coroner’s office.

Niguel Hamilton died at the hospital Sunday night, officials said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Boy pulled from bottom of Dayton pool ‘brain dead,’ grandfather says

Hamilton was pulled from the indoor pool at Lohrey Recreation Center in Dayton on July 12.

The city released a statement Friday afternoon: “A thorough investigation is underway. Out of respect for the family involved, we will not be making additional comments at this time.”

A Dayton Police Department detective also has been assigned to the case.

Niguel Hamilton was one of about four children in the indoor pool for swim lessons at the center, the boy’s grandfather, Willie Hamilton said. 

“He’s happy, full of life, loving, smart,” his grandfather said Friday. “Niguel is a good kid. He is a loving kid. Everybody who meets Niguel loves him.”

The last thing Hamilton remembers of Niguel’s swim lesson is that he saw him with his class in the deep end, and that Niguel, who is 6 but small for his age, had just gone off the diving board with his instructor’s assistance.

Shortly after that, a lifeguard said they didn’t see Niguel in the water and asked if he had seen him, whether he had gone to the restroom.

“I got up, went to the bathroom and looked around and couldn’t find him,” Hamilton said.

The lifeguards then got everyone out of the pool and searched again, in vain.

Hamilton said he went outside to check for him, but when he returned he learned they found him at the bottom of the pool.