Darlington City Pool reopens in wake of teens' deaths

Darlington, SC - DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Nearly a month after the drowning deaths of two teens, officials in Darlington have given the green light to reopen the Darlington City Pool to area residents.

The Darlington City Council voted 4-2 Thursday evening in favor of reopening the facility, upon the discretion of the Darlington Police Department. The pool will reopen to the public at noon on Friday, according to Darlington Mayor Tony Watkins.

The bodies of Justin Lee McKay, 14, and Timquan McAllister, 13, both of Darlington, were spotted underwater at the Darlington City Pool on May 30, as guards cleared the area due to inclement weather.

Following numerous rescue attempts by lifeguards, the two swimmers were transported to an area Pee Dee hospital. McKay was declared dead hours later by the Darlington County Coroner's Office, while McAllister was taken off life support in the days following the incident.

Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee said McAllister was being sustained on life support as doctors prepared to harvest the child's organs for donation.

A follow-up inquest by the Darlington County Coroner's Office ruled the teens' deaths an accident.

To prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future, officials will be adopting and enforcing a number of security measures to ensure a high level of safety for all swimmers.

Watkins said only people with adequate swimming skills will be allowed in the deep end of the pool, as lifeguards distinguish different levels of swimmers with wristbands. An adult lifeguard will also be circling the perimeter of the pool to assist other guards in pool observation.

Other changes to the operation of the Darlington City Pool include:

  • An air horn will be used to signal swimmers to leave the pool
  • Each lifeguard will be equipped with a one-way valve mask at all times
  • A new camera system will be installed
  • Limbs along the pool's fence that caused shadows in the water will be removed
  • Adults must accompany a child 13 years or younger. Parents must sign in as a supervisor of the child.
  • Parents can only supervise up to two children.
  • Children will be charged $1 to swim all day

Watkins stated the YMCA has offered to help manage the pool for the season, but would take several weeks to implement.

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