Drowning of 14-year-old prompts new safety policy at CAYS Foundation

The CAYS Foundation has new water safety policies in place since the February drowning death of 14-year-old Risco Batten, the foundation’s general manager, Sydney Williams, told members of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

The boy, who was a resident of the Bonaventure Boys Home, got into difficulties while swimming off a South Sound beach during a supervised outing. The home is managed by the CAYS Foundation.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush asked Mr. Williams about the policies relating to such outings, during a meeting of the Finance Committee.

“It was a tragic accident that happened to a young man,” Mr. Williams said.

“Immediately, swimming and all water activities were suspended.”

Staff members were then trained in water safety by a professional dive organization, and the foundation wrote a new water safety policy, which includes a requirement that all staff be trained in water safety.

“We will continue to develop these policies,” Mr. Williams said. “From now on, water activities will not be undertaken without the proper safety – the life vest, the lifeguard, buoys and all of those things.”

“We’ve really done a lot to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” he added.

He said a Divetech professional has vetted areas where CAYS children will participate in activities in the future.

“I can honestly tell you that it will only be two areas where anybody in CAYS will go fishing or anybody in CAYS will go swimming.

“There is no variation from those two areas,” Mr. Williams said.

Police are still investigating the drowning.