6-Year-Old New Jersey Boy Drowns In Pool On First Day

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IMG 4137 Pool, Summer Camp, New Jersey by Jameelah Mullen

June 27, 2024

Michael Stewart was found unresponsive in the shallow end of the pool.

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An investigation is underway after 6-year-old Michael Stewart drowned in a pool at a camp in Mansfield Township, New Jersey, on June 24.

The incident happened around 2 p.m. while the child was at Liberty Lake Day Camp. 

The owner and director of the camp, Andy Pritikin, said a lifeguard found the boy unresponsive in the pool. Staff members pulled Stewart out of the water and administered CPR. He was then taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The child was a part of an inclusion program for children with special needs, WPVI TV Philadelphia reports.

According to Pritikin, five staff members, including one who was specifically assigned to the child, were present at the time of the drowning. Additionally, four lifeguards were reportedly on duty. 

It is unclear how long Stewart was underwater before the lifeguard spotted him and pulled him out. 

Pritikin addressed the camper’s families in a Zoom meeting soon after the incident. 

“We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken. Our thoughts at this most difficult time are with our camper’s family, friends, and loved ones – and we are respecting their privacy at this time,” Pritikin said.

The camp director said that going forward, all staff will be required to be in the water with children. Additionally, a buddy check system will implemented.  

The camp was operating as normal on June 25. Video from WPVI TV Philadelphia video shows children swimming in one of the camp’s pools and lifeguards on duty. Pritikin said that he made the decision because he felt it was important to provide a sense of “normalcy” for staff and children. 

Michael’s mother, Enjoli Stewart, holds the camp responsible for her son’s death. 

“Liberty Lakes messed up, big time. Now I don’t have a son anymore, like, that’s heartbreaking,”  Stewart told Fox 29 News. 

Two separate Go Fund me links have been set up to support the family. To make a donation click here or here.

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