St. Louis County makes safety changes after child drowning

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — After months of nagging St. Louis County for answers about a tragic drowning, FOX 2 is learning about changes in child safety.

TJ Mister drowned at a county summer camp last July. We uncovered numerous security flaws, some of which we’ve learned are now being fixed.

St. Louis County is now enacting strict CPR requirements for all employees at its recovery centers. The county has also now hired a reputable pool management firm to oversee these safety changes.

“It’s definitely a good start, but you know, it’s sad that we lost our son,” said Travone Mister, TJ’s father.

Travone and Olga Mister are determined to stop other parents from feeling their pain. Her son never returned from summer camp he attended at the Kennedy Recreation Center in southern St. Louis County.

“Just knowing that if they did the right thing and pulled through, he would still be here,” Olga said.

FOX 2 has compiled more than a dozen reports on the safety shortcomings, the lack of lifeguards, the lack of AED equipment and the loophole that allows summer camps to operate without regulation.

But it’s the reported CPR failures that the Misters can track the most. According to internal St. Louis County documents, a consultant stopped the CPR to look for parts for an AED, then never found those parts and did not use the AED. When a consultant used a bag-valve mask, an audit report stated: “Most breaths were side-exit and did not cause chest rise and fall.”

“This was an event that was completely preventable,” said Doug Forbes.

Forbes was the first to receive the documents in its bid to improve camp security across the country. His daughter, Roxie, died at a summer camp in Southern California in 2019.

Speaking of the St. Louis County tragedy, he said, “I was very, very clear that there was no contingency plan in place. There was no understanding of how to react.”

St. Louis County is now making changes, including requiring employees at all four recovery centers to be CPR-trained.

Pool-related employees are required to complete a second level of CPR training, and the county has hired a local pool management company to recruit, train, and manage pool personnel.

“That’s what we’re pushing for, the change, the different things that they’re starting to do now,” Travone said.

Olga Mister continued: “It took our son to realize that this is important and I wish they had listened sooner.”

Their mission has only just begun as they push for more changes, including a new law requiring summer camps to be regulated much like child care centers. St. Louis County makes safety changes after child drowning

Sarah Y. Kim

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