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Teen drowns in Chicago Park District pool

The McKinley Park pool

The McKinley Park pool

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Updated: September 11, 2013 6:13AM

A Brighton Park neighborhood 14-year-old apparently drowned in a McKinley Park pool Friday afternoon on the South Side.

A lifeguard pulled Christopher Bowen from a pool about 2:40 p.m. in the park in the 2200 block of West Pershing, police said. A Park District official on the site who would not give his name said, “It appeared to be a dive gone wrong.”

At least one family member questioned why lifeguards were unable to better help the boy.

Paramedics took the unresponsive boy to Mount Sinai Hospital, but doctors were unable to revive him, according to Fire Media Affairs.

Bowen, of the 3700 block of South Rockwell Street, was declared dead at 3:22 p.m., according to the medical examiner’s office. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday.

“The loss of this young life is a tragedy. The Chicago Park District is investigating the circumstances behind this incident,” park district spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said in a statement.

Bowen’s aunt, Sherry Hedge, said a friend of her nephew said he dove to the bottom and didn’t come up. When the friend and a bystander pulled Bowen to the surface, a lifeguard refused to help, Hedge said. “He was right underneath the lifeguard and the lifeguard didn’t do anything. He said I can’t pull him up.”

The bystander went to the ladder and pulled Christopher, gasping and bleeding from the mouth and nose, out of the pool, Hedge said. But even then the lifeguard refused to help with CPR, said Hedge, herself a former Park District lifeguard.

“The lifeguards didn’t perform CPR, they didn’t do abdominal thrusts, which we’re trained to do when you pull a body out of the water,” Hedge said. “I don’t know if they just froze, or were ill prepared or not trained, those are just many of the questions we all have. They did nothing except call 911.”

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