Once again and sadly we are following up on yet another story of a drowning that took place during swimming practice in the state of Texas. This particular incident took place June 20th, 2016 at the Carroll Aquatics Center located in Southlake, Texas.
The reason we are paying so much attention to this is because it has now gone to trial. We are also paying attention to a similar case involving the drowning death of Benjamin Curry at San Ramon High School in Northern California as it also involved a swim coach. Both of these cases indicate a problem that is now being exposed through the tragic deaths of Benjamin Curry and now Elise Cerami.
Elise Cerami, a thirteen year old member of a club swim team who was planning on swimming for the Carroll High School varsity swim team as a freshman paid the ultimate price for lack of qualified supervision. Well, she will never have that opportunity and her drowning death did not have to happen.
Just like the Benjamin Curry drowning incident, swim coach Tracey Anne Boyd did not notice Elise Cerami was unaccounted for or at the bottom of the pool and was subsequently charged with abandonment and endangering of a child by criminal negligence which is a Texas state jail felony. The indictment of Coach Boyd by the district attorney’s office alleges the she failed to watch or observe Elise Cerami while swimming and failed to ensure that she was being supervised by someone else such as lifeguards.
The tragedy is that there were thirty of her teammates and two coaches present yet no one noticed Elise had gone underwater and was at the bottom of the pool during their kickset drills. It was only after they had just begun their freestyle drills that she was noticed underwater. How does this happen? Obviously, it would be clear that no one was adequately supervising the team practice to ensure swimmer safety.
On 12/11/20108, Our lifeguard chief, Ed Castillo received an email update from Elise Cerami’s mother, Lori Cerami who informed us that coach Tracy Boyd was found guilty of all charges and will receive three years probation and will never be allowed to coach again. It should be noted that Elise’s family was not seeking jail time for coach Boyd. She was facing two years of jail time for her role in the drowning death of Elise Cerami.
The issue we have with both cases is that there were no lifeguards on the deck to supervise the swimming activities. In fact it was others who noticed both Ben and Elise at the bottom of the pool. Both were pulled out by their peers but sadly too late in both cases. Our position is that had there been trained and professional lifeguards on the deck, both of these swimmers would be alive. Both of these drownings would not have happened had there been lifeguards!! There was no excuse for coach Boyd to have stepped away from the pool for 9 and a half minutes. During the trial it was revealed that Elise was underwater for 6 minutes before being pulled out by teammates.
Lori Cerami in reaching out to us also shared that her non-profit, The Swim4Elise Foundation is on the front lines of drowning prevention by encouraging and providing scholarships for swimmers/coaches to get certified as lifeguards. This is certainly a great cause and Lori Cerami is also now a certified lifeguard as well.
All of Elise’s teammates were given the opportunity to become trained and certified lifeguards through the empowerment of the foundation set up by Lori Cerami. The following pictures were sent to us by Lori and shows the training the girls received. This training will ensure that no one else will have to die on their watch. For this we applaud them and encourage them to go as far as they can with these new lifesaving skills.
If you would like information on The Swim4Elise Foundation, go to www.swim4elise.com
The following are pictures of Elise Cerami that her mother sent to us. Let’s honor her by preventing needless drownings and keeping schools and coaches accountable!
In the coming months, our lifeguard Chief will be seeking in-kind donations and unrestricted grants to help with the start up costs for the Golden State Lifeguards Foundation which would provide free lifeguard training for those who want to become lifeguards. The money will also be used to help promote drowning prevention and awareness through aggressive public relations initiatives in development by Chief Castillo.
If you would like to reach out to Chief Castillo, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org