Saturday, February 24, 2018

Responsibility and Drowning

At some point in the summer of 2016, up in northern Hessen around the city of Neukirchen....three Syrian-immigrant kids drowned in a local pond.  It was headlines in the region for a day or two, and begged for questions.  An investigation started up, and finally this past week....roughly 18 months later, the final report is issued.  It is a bit.....different, from what you'd expect.

The authorities say that the three kids (all from one single family, five kids total, ages of the dead were 5, 8 and 9) drown because of neglect by the mayor of Neukirchen. 

The pool is called a 'fire-water retention pond' by the such, it has to be fenced off and the general public is not allowed access. 

The mayor says that it's a 'recreational' pond, so no fencing is required.

So a fair amount of blame is being dished on the mayor.

The kids?  One of them had been taught to swim, so it's not clear why that kid drowned.  The two younger kids?  No swimming classes.

Laws dictate in Germany that if it's a fire-water retention pond....there has to be a 1.25 meter fence around and the public is now allowed access. In this fence.  But the signs required? Well, they were in place.

Some parts of the investigation are not complete.  For example, there is a suggestion that the mother did not fulfill her obligation of monitoring the kids.  The father?  He wasn't he can't be accused of the neglect issue.  Frankly, I seriously doubt that the authorities will go at this angle because she's already suffered enough.

The mayor being dragged into court?  Some prosecutor has to make the decision to do this, and risk losing the case by the local judge seeing this differently.  Max jail time if the mayor is convicted?  Five years in prison is the max you can hand out for his deal....if convicted. 

HR (the Hessen network told most of this story).  Its a sad story in some ways.  Most of the German kids in this smaller town (7,000 population) probably know about the pond, and have been told by their parents over the years NOT to socialize or play around it.  The mayor?  On his list of ten-thousand things around the village that need to be improved....this fencing business probably never made the top hundred things.  The Syrian family lost three members in some land that they felt was safe, but didn't realize the limits of safety in their own community.

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