The management of a Pennsylvania apartment development has replaced all of its pool lifeguarding staff after a teenager died on their watch. Now, the girl’s family wants answers and has hired representation to independently investigate the circumstances around the high schooler’s death.
Seventeen-year-old Kaylee Alston, a Philadelphia native, lost her life while swimming in a Bensalem pool in the Franklin Commons Apartment complex at Cardinal Drive on Sunday, June 26.
Lazette Wright, one of the teen’s relatives, said the girl went missing approximately an hour before the private pool was closed, adding when they requested support from the two lifeguards on duty to canvas the water, the lifeguards initially were hesitant, FOX 29 reported.
Witnesses say those who were hired to make sure no one drowns while enjoying the property’s amenity were reluctant to search the water because it was too murky.
Once one guard dove into the water, he was able to recover Alston’s lifeless body from the deepest end of the pool. Family members said he had to be coached during this time of crisis and was unsuccessful in preserving the teen’s life.
Alston’s cousin Alfonso Wright said, “He didn’t know what to do we were screaming, saying ‘Give her CPR, give her CPR.’ He was stuck, he didn’t know what to do. He just said ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ ”
The Bensalem Police Department was called to review the death, eventually closing the investigation and concluding no criminal intent was discovered.
The lawyer representing the girl’s family, Gabriel Levin, says they will continue to investigate on their own, believing at least negligence was at play on the lifeguard’s part.
“It’s really horrible, and I think it sends a message to the community that lifeguards are there for safety,” he said. “And people should feel safe when they are on duty and not drown in a pool with multiple guards.”
The family also maintains that if the water was so cloudy, 6ABC reports, no one should have been allowed to swim at all. “The big question here is why was anyone allowed to swim in this pool if the water is so cloudy that you can’t see a body at the bottom of the pool? You can’t safely lifeguard that pool,” said Lewis. “That’s the issue in my mind.”
The family and lawyer’s reasoning are also echoed by Bucks County non-public officials.
Four days before Alston’s accident, the Bucks County Health Department visited the property and inspected the pool, declaring the pool was in operable condition, but not without some red flags. The inspectors noticed several correctable violations, however, none of those were related to the clarity of the water.
According to a report released by the Los Angeles Times, having a “cloudy” or murky pool can be dangerous. The experts shared the “water should be clear enough to see the bottom,” noting if a pool supervisor allows the water quality to go down, if someone were to fall in, it would be extremely difficult to see them to save them.
Lazette Wright also mentioned that the complex took immediate action after her cousin’s death, possibly cleaning the pool.
“Sunday it was cloudy. On Monday the next morning, it was clear. You could see the bottom… On Sunday, you couldn’t see Kaylee’s body. You couldn’t see anything.”
While that change by the complex could not be verified, other changes were.
As a result of the accident, the complex has brought on a new team of lifeguards and is working to redesign the training process for those new workers.
For this already bereaved family, the tragedy is compounded by the shadow of Alston’s mother’s premature death just five years prior. The young lady is said to have four younger siblings that are now dealing with the loss of a loving big sister — while coping with the death of their primary caregiver.
In addition to her mother’s death, one of the young lady’s cousins was fatally shot in February 2022.
The family started a GoFundMe page to help with her funeral expenses. A portion of the money raised also will be earmarked to assist in getting grief counseling for her four younger siblings.
A prayer vigil in commemoration of her life was planned for Thursday, July 7 at Franklin Commons. No date for Alston’s homegoing service has been released.