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Investigators piecing together timeline of 5-year-old’s drowning

Incident at Durango Hot Springs happened after 6 p.m. Sunday

Investigators this week continued to try to piece together the events that led to a 5-year-old boy drowning Sunday at Durango Hot Springs.

“These cases are emotionally driven,” said La Plata County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chris Burke. “Our investigators are looking at video footage (this week) to determine a timeline.”

A little after 6 p.m. Sunday, rescue efforts started in an attempt to save the boy, who was swimming in the large swimming pool at the resort north of Durango. CPR efforts continued until the emergency medical service arrived.

The boy was then taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center by ambulance with his father.

“There was hope when he left the facility that EMS was going to be able to get a recovery – revive him – but he was pronounced dead, I guess, at the hospital,” hot springs co-owner Bryan Yearout said Sunday night.

Yearout said Tuesday that investigators are reviewing security camera footage, but he has not received any additional information from law enforcement about the incident.

“We don’t have new details or anything,” he said.

On Sunday night, Yearout said he believed the death was accidental.

“At this point in time, we have no reason to believe there is anything but accidental with the drowning,” he said.

Burke also said no new information was available as of Tuesday. He said an autopsy will be performed Thursday and the La Plata County coroner will release any findings.

“Unfortunately, this incident is a tragic loss for the family and community,” Burke said.

Coroner Jann Smith confirmed the autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

Shane Nelson, a Durango resident, said when he first arrived at the hot springs Sunday night, he heard calls for help.

“It was disbelief,” he said. “Then you could really hear the panic in who was calling for help.”

A wilderness first responder and former EMT, Nelson, along with a few other people, took turns administering CPR to the boy for an estimated 20 minutes until EMS arrived.

“There was a lot of hope, a lot of effort and a lot of faith, but we never found a pulse,” he said. “The CPR was done well. It was just really, really tragic.”

But Nelson said no matter how efficiently CPR is performed, sometimes injuries are too much to overcome.

“I don’t think anyone walked away from there thinking we could have done a better job,” Nelson said. “He (the boy) had the best care he could have until the ambulance arrived.”

Nelson said he spoke with a family friend of the boy, who said the boy slipped away for just a second while swimming in the pool. At around 6 p.m., it would have just gotten dark.

“If that happened a thousand more times, nothing bad would happen,” Nelson said. “He just got out of sight.”

The identity of the child and the family has not been disclosed. Smith, the coroner, said the family was from Oklahoma.

“At this point, we’re grieving with the family,” Yearout said Sunday night. “We’re going to be working on our side of things to figure out what created the situation so that we can try to mitigate any future incidents like this.”

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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