Safety Improvements at Marine Pool Since Recruit Drowning - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/24/06

Safety Improvements at Marine Pool Since Recruit Drowning

After the death of Marine recruit Jason Tharp, the Marine Corps is working to make its training program safer. Tharp died during water survival training at the pool at Parris Island last year.

Staff Sgt. Nadya Lopez, a swim instructor, was found not guilty of negligent homicide surrounding the drowning, and the Marine Corps has been making changes at the recruit pool to help prevent this kind of thing from happening again. They made some personnel changes and added another feature they're hoping will make the pool a safer place.

As part of boot camp, hundreds of Marine recruits each week come to the pool. Water survival training can be dangerous. But after Tharp drowned while trying to pass the four-minute float portion of the training, the Marines took a hard look at the training.

As a result of the investigations, Marines have made a number of changes at the pool including adding 12 new cameras throughout the facility.

"We've got complete coverage of the pool by at least one camera if not two," said Capt. David Bell. "Some of the cameras overlap in some manner."

Although Marines say there isn't always someone monitoring the cameras, they are a good tool, especially in training. "We try to get as much of that as captured, as much as we can," said Capt. Bell. "So after it's over, after everyone's adrenaline is worn off, and look at it systematically, objectively see what we did right, what we did wrong, and hopefully make the connections so it doesn't happen again."

Capt. Bell's position as water survival officer in charge is also new. His job is to oversee the pool. But Capt. Bell says it can't prevent accidents from occurring.

"I don't think me being here is going to prevent that kind of stuff from happening. Hopefully our response to it improves and I'd like to think we're doing our best to prevent it."

They'll keep the video archived for three weeks in case anything comes up they need to review.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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