BUFFALO, NY – The sister of a man who died after jumping into a hotel swimming pool says certain parts about the story of her brother’s death do not add up to her, particularly reports that he could not swim.
Tyler Craig, 18, was declared dead Sunday evening at a Buffalo hospital after being pulled from the pool at the Millennium Hotel on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga.
Craig’s sister, Imani Alexander, 19, says her brother had gone to the hotel with several friends for an overnight stay where they planned to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
“He was a good kid, he wasn't into the streets...he was always a happy person,” Alexander told WGRZ-TV.
Police said they were told Craig didn't know how to swim.
However, his sister insists that was not the case.
"I know he could swim,” said Alexander. “We'd been swimming together multiple times ...in the summer time when we were kids, whether at Shoshone Pool or Kensington Pool, we always went swimming."
Although Alexander wasn't present at the time of the incident, she says one of her brother’s friends who witnessed his drowning spoke to her about what happened.
"What I honestly think happened was, he jumped into the deep end, not knowing that it was seven feet (deep) and panicked…the police said there was no alcohol or drugs involved so I really think he just panicked."
According Alexander, she was told by her brother’s friend that they thought Tyler, a student at Charter School for Applied Technologies, was joking around at first, as he appeared to struggle before submerging.
“Then they realized he was in serious trouble. And even though they couldn’t swim themselves, their first instinct was jump in,” she said.
Police say Craig’s would be rescuers nearly drown themselves in their effort to help him.
Alexander says, based on what she was told, her brother’s friends weren't the only ones who thought the incident began as a put-on.
"They basically said people were laughing, sitting at the edge of their seat like they were watching a movie, and nobody helped until a lady came in who had just checked into the hotel. I was told she was fully clothed, in sneakers and jeans, and she jumped into the pool once Tyler sank to the bottom with all her clothes on and brought him out."
The State Health Department rules governing swimming pools and the supervision of same, are quite detailed and not easy to interpret.
The determination of whether lifeguards are required center largely on how many people are using the pool at a particular time, as well as the depth of the pool and its overall size.
As a general rule, pools exceeding 2,000 square feet would require the supervision of a certified lifeguard.
It appears that the pool at the Millennium, with a depth of 3-7 feet, and an overall size of approximately 1,300 square feet, would not be required to have a life guard on duty at all times, but would have to have signs conspicuously posted that swimmers using the pool do so at their own risk.
“I understand people are swimming at their own risk,” said Alexander. “But this isn't the first time this has happened at the pool."
She was referring to near drowning's reported at the Millennium pool in 2013, 2011 and 2009.
“I think if the hotel doesn’t have a lifeguard on duty at all times, then it should change its policy so this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s family,” Alexander said.
There is a Gofundme account set up for Tyler Craig to help with funeral expenses. https://www.gofundme.com/tyler-craig-my-loving-son