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September 15, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mayor Avedisians statement regarding the accidental drowning at City Park


Good morning, everyone. Let me first start by once again extending our deepest sympathies to
the family and friends of Jamir Stewart.
As you are all aware, the Rhode Island Medical Examiner has unofficially determined that Jamir
Stewart died by accidental drowning at City Park beach. While the Warwick Police
Departments investigation is still ongoing, material essential facts regarding the events of
August 14th have come to light and as such, I would like to offer an update as to the findings.
After reconstructing a timeline of events, the Police Department was able to conclude that Jamir
was instructed by his aunt to exit the water and return to his mother. Approximately three
minutes later his aunt became uncertain as to Jamirs whereabouts.
Jamirs aunt then contacted one of the lifeguards on duty to report Jamir missing. The lifeguard
conducted a shore and water observation with Jamirs aunt and did not locate him. The lifeguards
then cleared the water, called their supervisor and called 911.
A Warwick Police Department officer arrived on the scene. The Warwick Fire Department
arrived shortly thereafter while a civilian formed human chain was conducting a water search.
The civilian organized human chain discovered Jamir in the water and was evacuated by a
member of the Warwick Fire Department. CPR was immediately administered and was
continued as Jamir was transported to Kent Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
As Jamir was being transported to the hospital, both lifeguards were assaulted by unidentified
individuals who were at the beach. The lifeguards were escorted by the Warwick Police
Department from the scene and declined to press charges.
During the course of the Warwick Police Departments investigation, the City simultaneously
conducted our own, separate administrative investigation into the current policies and procedures
in place at our City beaches, and for our lifeguards. As we continued to investigate, it became
clear that there were a number of administrative irregularities within the Department of Parks
and Recreation.
Upon concluding that investigation, and in conjunction with the police investigation, we have
uncovered certain programmatic issues that exist with the training and staffing of lifeguards at
our beaches. Chief among them; some lifeguards lacked the appropriate certifications, some were
not wearing the proper attire and in certain cases staffing regulations set by Rhode Island
Department of Environmental Management were not met.

On Sunday August 14th, as mandated by the state, City Park beach should have had three
lifeguards on duty. Only two lifeguards were on duty. Additionally, only one lifeguard had the
correct beach-lifeguard certification, the other did not.
As a result of these investigations, one supervisory employee has been terminated and another
has resigned. Additionally, based on the assaults and threats against the lifeguards on duty at the
beach, the City remains concerned for the personal privacy and safety of our workers, and will
not release the names of any employees involved in the investigation.
We have begun the process of examining our current policies and procedures and will work
closely with the Department of Environmental Management and the Red Cross going forward.
Furthermore, after identifying the areas for improvement, we will work with each organization to
make sure all the necessary changes are made.
Sadly, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children 14 years and younger in the
US. Here in Warwick we are committed to properly educating youths about water safety. We
have reached out to Lara DAntuono, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick,
to help develop a program to expand swim lesson and safety resources for adolescents. We are
working to secure the funding for the program through the Michael Phelps Foundation, which
was established to help facilitate the creation of learn to swim programs such as water-safety,
recreational pool activities and swim training. In the coming months, well continue to examine
safety procedures and protocols.
We are still waiting on the final autopsy report.
I would like to thank all the first responders, including beachgoers who assisted with the search. I
would also like to thank the Warwick Police Department, as well as all the witnesses who
cooperated with the investigation. To conclude, our thoughts and prayers will remain with all
those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy.

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