HARTFORD - A system installed last year to prevent drownings at city pools was not working at the Keney Park pool on early Wednesday morning when a 16-year-old drowned.
The system uses camera and sensor technology with multiple angles and it alerts police when the perimeter has been breached after hours.
The teen, along with about 20 other friends, hopped the fence to swim. If the camera was working, once police are alerted they would dispatch an officer to the scene.
Mayor Luke Bronin said the camera system has not been working for a couple of weeks. He said the problem was a modem failure due to the heat. On Tuesday, the police department central command was working with an outside contractor to try to get the camera working.
Keney Park pool opened on Monday, despite the camera system not working. The police also didn't have a patrol stationed at the park or pool the night of the drowning.
"We can’t be there at all hours of the night. We just don’t have the staff for that. When possible as the mayor addressed earlier, we have directed patrols," said Hartford Police Chief David Rosado.
The mayor and chief said they had a call to action for the community to obey the no swimming rules during hours when a lifeguard is on duty.
The park has posted signs outside the pool that say the hours of operation are from dawn to dusk and another signs explicitly states no swimming when no lifeguard is on duty.
"We have trained lifeguard who are there during the hours that the pools are open. We’ve got our pools open for the hours that are consistent with just about every town in the area," said Bronin.
Fox 61's Chief Investigator, Brian Foley said this camera system was meant to prevent this exact type of tragedy.
"It’s so sad because it’s preventable. Last year or two years ago we worked so hard to build this system and prevent these types of drownings," said Foley.
The teen was about to turn 17 in a week. His name is not being given. Bronin also explained that based on interviews and evidence, it's believed the teens all left the pool at 9 p.m. Tuesday night because they believed the police were coming to the pool. They later discovered that once of their friends was not with them.
A missing person alert was put out at 1 a.m. and then a call to the pool for a body at 2 a.m.
The teen was pronounced dead about an hour later at St. Francis Hospital.
Hartford officials say the Keney Park pool will remain closed for at least two days. They'll instead open up the Parker Memorial Center indoor pool for relief from the heat. The mayor said that while the camera system isn't fool-proof, all of the other cameras at the other city pools are functioning properly.
Police didn't commit to have a patrol stationed at the park or pool but Rosado did say that patrols will be directed in that area.