No marked swim area at park where teen went under water

Kaivon Eskew, 15, remained in critical condition on Sunday

8th Avenue Community Park, Georgetown Township
8th Avenue Community Park in Georgetown Township. (June 18, 2017)


GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Wyoming teen remained in critical condition Sunday night after going under the water for several minutes at a Georgetown Township park on day earlier.

Kaivon Eskew, 15, was trying to get to a ball when he started to struggle at a drop-off in the lake at 8th Avenue Community Park on Saturday. He was under the water for eight minutes before being pulled out of the lake, authorities say.

Now some are raising concerns about a lack of signage at the park. The only sign posted reminding swimmers of risks and warning that there are no lifeguards is at the front entrance, far away from the beach.

A sign at 8th Avenue Community Park in Georgetown Township lists rules and warns there is no lifeguard. (June 17, 2017)

Angel Ojeda’s brother, Jose Rivera, drowned at the lake on June 24, 1979. Rivera was 21; Ojeda was 11.

“He was out a little ways and I was on an inner tube and he went down and I was the only one around him. I tried to get to him, but I just couldn’t hang on,” Ojeda remembered Sunday.

“It still bugs me until this day,” he continued. “There’s no markings, no nothing, so people go out and swim thinking it’s a pretty safe place to swim, but it isn’t.”

There aren’t any warning signs on the beach and there aren’t any buoys in the water marking a designated swim area.

A Georgetown Township Parks rental agreement online states that “no person shall swim, float, or otherwise go beyond the barriers marking and identifying the allowable swimming areas adjoining each park within a lake.” But 24 Hour News 8 couldn’t find aren’t any such “barriers” at the park.

>>PDF: Rental agreement

8th Avenue Community Park, Georgetown Township
8th Avenue Community Park in Georgetown Township. (June 18, 2017)

“I was always told when I was a kid that you could drown in a teaspoon of water. It depends on how much water you take in, how strong of a swimmer you are, if you’re a swimmer at all, period,” Grand Rapids Fire Dept. Lt. Travis Gurd said.

He said that within four to six minutes under water, the brain starts to die. Water will enter the lungs and hypothermia can set in if the water is too cold.

In cases where there are no lifeguards, you are swimming at your own risk.

Gurd said you should never swim alone and parents should supervise their children in the water at all times.

“The biggest thing I can suggest is if you’re not a strong swimmer, stay out of the water or use a lifejacket,” he said.

24 Hour News 8 reached out to the Georgetown Township supervisor and manager on whether there were buoys at one time or if officials have considered barriers at 8th Avenue Community Park. Because it was Sunday, they were not immediately available for comment.