Jessica Lee Kretz, 34, a swimming instructor in Florida, has been charged with felony child neglect after police said a young child nearly drowned while under her supervision.
The near-drowning incident happened in early July of 2018 at a summer day camp run by Park Maitland, a private school located in the greater Orlando area. Following an investigation by the Maitland Police, Kretz was arrested on May 28, 2019. She was released on bail the following day and ordered not to work with children as a lifeguard or swimming instructor.
The parents of the young boy have also filed a lawsuit against the private school for damages. They argue that the school failed to provide adequate training for its employees on how best to supervise groups of young children. According to the lawsuit filed in Orange County, the toddler suffered injuries that require lifelong care. Heavy is not publishing the child’s name or his parents’ names.
We want to warn that surveillance video included below may be disturbing.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Police: Jessica Kretz Turned Her Back to the Young Child & Did Not Notice When He Went Underwater; Surveillance Video Shows Several People Swimming Nearby as the Child Struggled
Jessica Kretz and a second swim instructor were overseeing a class of 15 young children at Park Maitland in early July of 2018. According to the police report, cited by CBS affiliate WKMG-TV, the instructors divided the children into two groups and the toddler in question was in Kretz’s group.
Investigators said Kretz had been informed before the class began that the 3-year-old boy did not know how to swim. Police said that surveillance video showed that Kretz left the toddler and a second child sitting on the pool steps. She reportedly had her back turned when the toddler went underwater.
WKMG-TV obtained part of the surveillance video, which is embedded above. In the clip, you can see that the child is already in the water with other children and adults located just a few feet away in the pool. Kretz passed near him but did not appear to notice the boy. Another adult also does not notice. Kretz finally turns around and lifts him out of the water.
Police said the boy was underwater for at least two minutes and had stopped moving by the time Kretz noticed he had gone under. She performed CPR and according to the police statement, the child was unconscious for about four minutes after she pulled him out.
2. Maitland Police Opened an Investigation & Recommended That Both Swimming Instructors Face Charges For the Near-Drowning Incident
Jessica Kretz was teaching a swim class along with a second instructor on the day of the near-drowning. But Kretz is the only person facing a criminal charge.
WKMG-TV reported that the Maitland Police Department recommended that both instructors should be held accountable for what happened to the 3-year-old boy. But prosecutors decided against charging the second teacher.
3. The Toddler’s Parents Sued the Park Maitland School; The Lawsuit States That the Child’s Injuries Were ‘Either Permanent or Continuing in Nature’
The parents of the 3-year-old boy sued the Park Maitland School in November of 2018, following the conclusion of the police investigation. According to the complaint, filed in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, the family is asking for damages of more than $15,000.
The family argues that the school was negligent in caring for their son at the summer day camp. The lawsuit states that the school “breached its duty” when the “employees failed to properly supervise” the boy.
The lawsuit does not share specific details about the child’s injuries. But it does indicate that the boy suffered long-lasting complications due to being underwater for at least two minutes and unconscious for several minutes after that. The family included that the child “suffered bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, embarrassment, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life and has incurred expenses for hospitalization, has incurred expenses for medical and nursing care and treatment for himself. The aforementioned damages and losses are either permanent or continuing in nature and Plaintiff will continue to suffer these losses in the future.”
The family argues that school failed to properly train its employees in how best to supervise groups of young children. “The Defendant, PARK MAITLAND, breached its duty of care owed to Plaintiffs by allowing its employees to serve as camp counselors at PARK MAITLAND without providing adequate training regarding supervision and monitoring of children in the swimming pool.”
4. Jessica Kretz is Charged With Felony Child Neglect & Ordered Not to Work With Children
The Maitland Police recommended in October of 2018 that criminal charges be filed in the case. Court records show that Jessica Kretz was arrested on May 28, 2019. Bail was set at $5,000 and Kretz was released the next day. She was also ordered not to work with children as a swim instructor, swim coach or lifeguard.
She is charged with Neglect of a Child Causing Great Bodily Harm, Permanent Disfigurement or Disability. It is a second-degree felony under Florida law.
5. Jessica Kretz Was Fired From Her Job at the Park Maitland School
Jessica Kretz worked at the Park Maitland School for about four years. A spokesman told WKMG-TV that Kretz has been a “very qualified swim instructor.”
Kretz has since been fired, but the school did not comment as to exactly when she was let go.
The child’s parents did not specifically mention Kretz’s name in the lawsuit against the school. But the complaint includes that the school is “legally responsible for the appointment, compensation, promotion, training, supervision, discipline and dismissal of PARK MAITLAND employees who were working at the subject summer day camp.”