The summer after a Fall River woman drowned in nearly opaque water, state officials have overhauled operations at swimming pools, closing slides, hiring more lifeguards, and filling in deep ends.
With a new swimming season set to begin Saturday, the state’s recreation department has made broad changes to improve safety at its two dozen deepwater pools, following recommendations from a scathing internal review that found “systemic deficiencies” in their management.
Marie Joseph, 36, who could not swim, drowned last June after going down the slide and slipping under the water without notice. Her body lay unseen on the bottom of the Fall River pool’s 12-foot-deep end for two days, shrouded by the cloudy water.
Four state employees, including a regional director and district manager, lost their jobs after investigators found that water quality flagrantly violated safety guidelines. Two men were sentenced to probation after being charged with reckless endangerment.
Joseph’s death, and the agency’s admission that it might have been prevented, has spurred a range of reforms, from creating a new aquatics division with a team of new administrators to requiring lifeguards to make regular hand-checks of the pool floor.
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