9/17/2014

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Report: Possible mistakes made by Seattle Fire in hotel drowning

Report: Possible mistakes made by Seattle Fire in hotel drowning

SEATTLE - The Seattle Fire Department is looking into new training techniques in the aftermath of a drowning at a hotel pool.

A report released Friday says the department needs to review their water rescue training, as it points out possible mistakes firefighters made when a man disappeared in the pool of a hotel.

This, after they failed to locate 27-year-old Tesfaye Deboch, who drowned on June 30, 2012 at the Quality Inn swimming pool in Seattle.

"There was a swimmer in the water who was diving down, and he never saw the person in the water also," Fire Chief Gregory Dean said.
27-year-old Tesfaye Deboch
The fire crew said they could see the bottom of the pool, but no body. Because no victim was visible, they didn't go in the water.

"We had 4 firefighters on scene, as well as the hotel caller and employees. Everybody looking in the pool never actually saw the body," Chief Dean said.

Firefighters used rescue hook poles and thermal imaging cameras to probe the bottom of the pole, but found nothing and left the scene.

Three hours later, hotel guests noticed the pool water becoming murkier. An employee used a rescue hook again, sweeping the pool, and felt an object in the deep end.

An off-duty firefighter visiting from Texas pulled the victim from the pool and called 911. Shortly after he was pronounced dead.

As part of the internal investigation, the department will look at when to allow firefighters to go in the water, when a dive team is unnecessary, and the benefits of increased swimmer rescue capability within the department.

The report doesn't say if any of these recommendations could have prevented Deboch's death.

After the incident, the county shut the hotel pool down after finding a series of violations.

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