Family demands answers in teen’s drowning at city pool

When Kyra Sereda Paul thinks of her brother Adam, she remembers his sense of humour. “Even if it wasn’t funny, he somehow made it funny,” she said. “I don’t know how he did it.”

The siblings grew up in Winnipeg, and spent hours in their grandparents’ pool, vying for the title of deepest diver or fastest swimmer.

“He did beat me last summer, I will admit that,” she said.

Their parents, Cindy Paul and Jason Sereda, brought their children to public pools often.

“Everybody called him a fish,” Paul said. “And this happened, and I cannot understand why.”

On April 1st, 2024, Paul took Adam to swim at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex pool. Paul remembers watching her son jump into the deep end from the pool’s observation area before she went to the washroom at 4:11 p.m.

Story continues below advertisement

“I came back and he wasn’t there,” she said, “And I sat back down because that’s not abnormal either, like he goes to the change room.”

She waited a few minutes for him to return.

“At 4:34, I called his phone… but there was no answer,” she said. Shortly after, she saw a lifeguard hit the alarm button. “He was right in front of me at the bottom of the pool, right where I couldn’t see him, the entire time,” Paul said. “I couldn’t see. I didn’t know.”

More on Health

Adam couldn’t be revived. And now his parents are seeking answers from the City of Winnipeg as to how their son drowned at a pool with lifeguards on the scene. They allege staff were not watching the deep end of the pool, and didn’t provide proper first aid. Paul says staff could not locate a piece of equipment needed to use a CPR bag.

The latest health and medical news emailed to you every Sunday.

“That never touched Adam,” she said.

“There’s absolutely no excuse for this,” said Sereda.

Paul also says she remembers staff talking about “shift change” – but swimmers were not told to get out of the water.

Paul and Sereda say they’ve received little communication from the City of Winnipeg since April 1. Sereda reached out to St. Boniface City Councillor Matt Allard, but says he’s yet to speak with him directly, instead speaking with an assistant.

Story continues below advertisement

“That is the only person from the City that has said anything to us, and that’s because Jay asked,” said Paul Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s my responsibility or job to come up with questions for them. I think it’s their responsibility to talk to us.”

In an email, Global News sent the City of Winnipeg a list of questions about lifeguard staffing and training policies, shift change protocol, and changes made since Adam’s death. Global also requested an interview, which the City declined.

“Please note that whenever there is a critical incident in one of our recreation and leisure facilities, we follow a post-incident protocol which includes reviewing and debriefing with staff and management. We don’t have any additional information to share in this regard at this time,” said Corporate Communications Manager David Driedger in an emailed statement.

The statement also noted the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has offered to meet with Adam’s parents to go over their response to the incident – but Paul and Sereda say it’s not WFPS’s response they take issue with.

“This was a young child, but it could have been any age, because they weren’t there,” said Paul. “They weren’t watching.”

Sereda says police told him there is no camera footage of the part of the pool where Adam drowned – only the observation area where Paul was sitting. The pool closed for the remainder of the evening on April 1 but reopened the next day.

Story continues below advertisement

In the roughly two months since their son and brother died, his family has leaned heavily on support from Winnipeg’s hockey community. Adam was an avid hockey player, attending Churchill Hockey Academy and playing with the St. Boniface Seals. Paul and Sereda say they were especially touched by the outpouring of support from Adam’s teammates and friends.

“They kept us going for the first couple weeks,” said Paul.

“They would show up at your home, with food and cards and flowers,” said Sereda.

“There’s no words to describe it,” said Kyra Sereda Paul.

Until the City answers their questions – and makes changes – the family fears what happened to Adam could happen to others.

“Don’t think you’re safe when you’re going to a public pool. Do not think for one instant,” said Sereda.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.