New Berlin - For the first time since a child in the New Berlin playground program was pulled unconscious from Wirth Park swimming pool and later died, the program planned another field trip to the Brookfield site this week.
Whether that trip, which was scheduled for Tuesday, would take place hinged on if enough kids signed up. As of Monday, the trip had only 20 commitments - less then the minimum needed for the trip to happen, said Mark Schroeder, director of New Berlin parks, recreation and forestry.
Weekly field trips to Wirth Park pool have been offered for at least a dozen years, but the playground program didn't go to the pool for the last two Tuesdays out of respect for the trauma the staff and families suffered, Schroeder said.
The incident happened July 3, when the 8-year-old child was among 77 children at the swimming pool from the New Berlin program. They were accompanied by 12 adult leaders.
"Anybody involved was crushed by this," Schroeder said. "I'm a parent, and our hearts go out to the family."
Confidence in safety
But playground program officials felt it was time to offer the field trip again.
"We've had tremendous confidence in our playground coordinators and all the staff we have," he said. "We also have confidence in the Brookfield Park and Rec and the Wirth Park pool staff."
For many years, the swimming field trip has been a safe and wonderful experience for the children, he said.
But seemingly, some parents are not as ready to sign their children up for the optional swimming field trip. Schroeder declined to speculate on what the decline in sign-ups means, except to say that parents are just doing whatever makes them feel comfortable regarding their kids' safety.
The swimming pool hasn't changed its procedures since the incident, said Bill Kolstad, Brookfield director of parks, recreation and forestry.
Although it was a hot day, the crowd wasn't particularly large and additional lifeguards were on duty, he said. Even though the pool wasn't busy, the guards used the same procedures they employ for busy days, which includes having a lifeguard in the water walking the pool, he said.
The death has been ruled a drowning by the Waukesha County Medical Examiner's Office. The girl died July 11.
Brookfield police are still investigating the incident.
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