Burke County Sheriff releases statement and report on child drowning

WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) – Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams released a statement and report regarding the drowning of 4-year-old Israel Scott.

Statement from Sheriff Williams says,

On June 14, 2022, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and Burke County EMA responded
at 113 Deer Run Road, Hephzibah, Georgia regarding the possible drowning of a child. Our
the investigation revealed that Israel Scott, a 4-year-old boy, and nine other children had been
attend swimming lessons given by Ms. Lexie Tenhuisen. At some point approaching
At the end of the lesson, Israel entered the deep water of the pool, undetected. At Mrs. Tenhusien’s
granddaughter noticed Israel in the pool and warned Tenhusien who had just come out of the
swimming pool with the children to dry off after the last child’s swimming relay. Tenhuisen immediately
jumped into the pool to save Israel. At that time, Israel was not responding and Tenhusien
and a parent (registered nurse) who was waiting for her child’s lessons to start started CPR.

Israel was transported by ambulance to Burke Medical Center, then transferred to the Children’s
Medical Center in Augusta, where he later died.

In the days following this incident, our investigator attended the autopsy, interviewed Ms.
Tenhusien, the children of the swimming lesson and those who arrived waiting for lesson, and the parents
who were present during the incident. We have comprehensively studied data on children
drownings, student-teacher ratios during swim lessons, safety protocols and general
information relevant to the case. Georgian law reads: ‘A crime’ is a violation of a statute of
that state in which there is a joint operation of an act or omission to act and an intention or a crime
neglect. Criminal negligence is an act or failure to act that demonstrates a will,
wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others who might reasonably be expected to be
injured thereby.

Our office and our community are deeply saddened by this tragic loss. We cried and
continue to mourn with all parties involved. We immediately offered our most sincere condolences to
the Scott family. You don’t expect to take your child to swimming lessons to learn the water
safety and that the child is not returned to them safely. We have been in constant contact with
the Scott family and shared the findings of the case privately, before releasing any
information to the public.

We met with Assistant District Attorney Rex Myers and briefed him on the findings of our investigation.
Although there may be some form of negligence, it was determined that the case was not sufficiently
evidence to prove criminal negligence. Accordingly, we are unable to proceed with this
Case. Our findings have been forwarded to the public prosecutor for further review.

With a heavy heart, I stay.
Alphonse Williams

Alphonse Williams

Sheriff Williams also released a detailed report of the incident and the duty officer’s notes which you can read below.

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