Carson Valley Swim Center slide pool closed after accident |

Carson Valley Swim Center slide pool closed after accident

Merrie Leininger

The pool is packed these sweltering summer days, but anyone thinking they would have a chance to go down the new water slides is in for a disappointment.

The slides had to be closed two weeks ago, said Carson Valley Swim Center director Kirk Chiapella, after a 14-year-old boy injured his head.

Chiapella said the pool staff were waiting until members of the press called about the incident before releasing information. The boy was injured on May 12. He came down the slide feet-first, but a little too fast and flipped over when he hit the water. During the investigation into the incident, the new pool was measured and found to be too shallow by a few inches.

“We had an injury that was relatively minor, but it did involve a couple of stitches and it caught my attention. The mother caught my attention, too. She talked to me because she was concerned about other children getting injured,” Chiapella said. “We reviewed that accident with staff like we always do. In the process, we said, ‘Let’s measure the pool,’ and it was in fact a little bit shallow. The pool did not meet the specifications we paid for.”

Connie Roth is the mother of Danny Roth, the boy who was injured. She said Danny had to get staples in his head, but he was not seriously injured. She said she did express to Chiapella a concern that other children would be hurt.

“When I called back, I told him my concern about what had happened. I was concerned someone else could die. (Danny) wasn’t doing anything illegal and hit his head at the bottom of the pool. I had to voice my opinion because I wouldn’t want someone else to get hurt,” Roth said. “They told me the reason why the pool was that shallow was the recommendation of the slide manufacturers. They told me it is because some kids who go down the slide don’t know how to swim.”

Chiapella is quick to defend Northern Sierra Construction Co. because of the company’s prompt response once the problem was discovered.

“They responded very quickly to correct this issue. The pool is 3 feet 3-1/2 inches deep and it has to be 3 feet 6 inches, and the slide manufacturer would not warranty the slide without that depth,” Chiapella said.

Before the deficiency was determined, he said, the pool was filled with more water in an attempt to prevent additional accidents.

However, once the pool was determined to be too shallow, it was shut down and drained.

“The slide pool is closed. The three existing pools are all open. There is no problem with the slides, it is simply the depth in the landing area. It has been adjusted and now it has be be replastered, refilled and reheated,” Chiapella said.

He said he is not sure when the pool and slide will be re-opened.

“The problems are small in nature, but it could have been significant. We don’t want anybody getting hurt,” Chiapella said.

He said the pool will not be made deeper than 3 feet 6 inches, because of the added expense and time and because that is the depth required by the slide manufacturer.

“The slide manufacturer weighs the risk of drowning versus the risk of injury,” Chiapella said.

East Fork Pool District Board Chairperson Suzy Stockdale said the reason this deficiency wasn’t discovered sooner is because the construction is considered on-going.

“We’re still in the process. We still haven’t completed the project. The architect and the contractor are still doing the completion to fix this, fix that. The reality is the pool is still in construction, so it’s being checked along the way. I can’t pinpoint (why it wasn’t discovered sooner). Like most new projects, we ran it before we opened it. In fact, I went down it many times and I had no problem. Of course, the kids get rambunctious,” Stockdale said.