Boy drowns at Woodbury lake where city eliminated lifeguards

There’s a lot of money in Woodbury, one of the most affluent communities in Minnesota. But not enough for a lifeguard at the city’s Carver Lake and now a 5- year-old boy is dead. From the sound of things, it’s lucky his rescuer is waking up today, too.

The Pioneer Press reports Patrick Hedican, 28, was playing volleyball when he heard a child was missing. So he and a friend dove in to help find him.

“I’d been looking for about three to four minutes and me and my group of friends decided to dive in separate directions.”

On Hedican’s third dive, he made it down to the bottom of the lake. He had run out of breath, but when he looked up he saw the boy floating at the top of the seaweed above him. He was down about 25 feet in the water, he says.

“I can’t usually dive like that, I was going on adrenaline.”

He stretched his arm up but even though he’s six foot four, he couldn’t reach the boy with his hand. Using the lake bottom to kick off for momentum, he swam upward, pushing the boy to the surface with him. Once he hit the air, he pulled the boy onto his chest and paddled back to the shore on his back, which was some 25 to 30 feet away.

“He was able to fit with his back on my chest, so I bear hugged him and started back to shore, kicking with my feet and using my arms to keep his head above the water,” he said.

When he got closer to the shore, exhaustion overcame him and he started to sink from his efforts to keep the boy’s head above water. A friend swimming to shore beside him, Sierra Sewell, grabbed the boy from Hedican and put him on a flotation device. Other bystanders pulled the flotation device toward shore and carried the boy to a grassy area where paramedics where waiting to perform CPR.

Kendrick Jordan Jr., 5, died at Region’s Hospital.

Let’s hit the NewsCut Wayback Machine: June 23, 2009. Star Tribune:

In Woodbury, as in many other places, city officials said they cut the lifeguards to save money. Previously, Woodbury charged a $2 admission fee, but without lifeguards it’s now free. Supplying lifeguards cost the city $7,000 to $12,000 a year, said Bob Klatt, director of Woodbury’s Parks and Recreation Department. He expects to be close to break-even this year.

“We’ve been talking about it for a number of years and we decided this is the time to do it,” Klatt said.

Prior Lake is saving $34,000 this year by eliminating lifeguards.

According to the League of Minnesota Cities, Woodbury has plenty of company.

This year’s lifeguard cuts stem from concern by many cities over the loss of state-funded local government assistance, said Rachel Walker, manager of policy analysis for the league.

This was around the depths of the economic meltdown. But the economy recovered, Woodbury is booming again, and the lifeguards were never restored.

Related: Can you spot the drowning child? Know the signs (MPR News)