Autopsy results showed that a 12-year-old Chicago boy drowned Tuesday in a pool that’s part of the Fairhaven Baptist Church complex in Chesterton, officials said.
Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris identified the boy as Davion Henderson, and said he was at the pool with a Chicago church group that was visiting Fairhaven, located at 86 E. Oak Hill Road. He was found unresponsive in an area of the pool that was approximately 3 feet deep, according to witnesses, Harris said.
A toxicology report, which could take several weeks, is pending.
Porter EMS transported the boy to Porter Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:26 p.m.
The Porter County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the drowning but did not have any additional information Wednesday afternoon.
Steve Damron, identified on Fairhaven’s website as the church’s senior pastor, did not return multiple calls for comment.
According to Fairhaven’s website, the Olympic-size indoor pool is used by the church’s summer day camp as well as Fairhaven Baptist College, also located at the complex.
It was not immediately clear whether a lifeguard was at the pool or was required, though the pool would be required to have a permit and undergo regular inspections, said Kelly Cadwell, director of environmental health with the Porter County Health Department.
Lifeguards are required for all public pools and for semi-public pools if they are 2,000 square feet or more, she said, though under state statute, a church pool falls under a “significant gray area.”
“We have had instances were certain churches feel they are exempt from certain rules,” she said.
A lifeguard can keep track of swimmers, particularly children, for safety.
“That’s the whole point of a lifeguard,” she said. “It is very difficult to keep an eye on everybody.”
Last month, a 2-year-old girl drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool in Jackson Township after wandering from her family home early in the morning.
At the time, Sgt. Jamie Erow, public information officer with the sheriff’s department, urged caution around the water.
“While summer is a wonderful time of the year, please exercise extreme caution around pools and lakes,” she said then in a release.
Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.