Attorney Gordon Johnson
Date: 7/15/2009 3:45 PM
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Lifeguards mourned and left flowers Wednesday at a makeshift memorial for an 11-year-old girl who was run down by a boat while training to be a lifeguard.
Allyssa Squirrell (Skwehr-EHL’) of Laguna Hills died in surgery Tuesday. An autopsy Wednesday concluded that she died of deep cuts to her back and her left leg, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.
“In all probability, she was struck by the boat’s propeller,” Amormino said.
Junior lifeguards showed up at the city’s marine safety headquarters to remember Allysa. Mourners left flowers, a candle, a pot filled with sand and shells, a pink dolphin-shaped balloon and a message reading “God bless you sweet child,” Amormino said.
Noah Glass, 11, wore his training uniform of white T-shirt and red trunks. He came with his father to place flowers.
“She was really nice and funny. We always played games together,” he told KABC-TV.
Allyssa was with a group of 20 to 25 junior lifeguards who were training beyond the surfline at Huntington Beach when she was struck at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The youngsters were practicing speed drops, jumping off the end of a moving boat in pairs. Allyssa and another girl successfully jumped, Amormino said.
The 28-foot boat circled back to pick up the junior lifeguards when it struck Allyssa. The other girl was not hurt, Amormino said.
The boat’s pilot apparently didn’t see the girls because they had not yet swum back to the main group and the seas were choppy, Amormino said.
Allyssa was halfway through an eight-week lifeguard course. Training was suspended Wednesday and grief counselors were made available for the trainees, Amormino said. The program was to resume Thursday.
The boat was piloted by Lt. Greg Crow, a 32-year veteran of the Huntington Beach Marine Safety Division who held a public safety medal of valor, Amormino said.
There also were two instructors, one in the boat and one in the water.
Crow, 53, was traumatized by the accident and is on leave, Amormino said.
He voluntarily submitted to a toxicology test that found no evidence of alcohol or drugs in his body, Amormino said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
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