New Insight on the Sportspark Drowning Now Available Update


Aided by City Council Member Julie Menin’s staff, we learned more about the Sportspark drowning that occurred last May. RIOC stonewalled every detail, even shirking responsibility for answering FOIL requests.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

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Swimming pools are sources of fun and exercise, but safety should always be considered./ Photo by Kindel Media on

The Official Word on the Sportspark Drowning

“Cause of death: Drowning due to cardiac arrhythmia possibly due to variants of undetermined significance in TRPM4 and ANK2 genes

“Manner of death: Accident”

The Daily has since learned that video exists showing the victim sinking to the bottom of the pool. Efforts to save him were not made by RIOC lifeguards but by other swimmers.

Informants further claim that RIOC CEO Shelton J. Haynes immediately order that all internal communications be verbal with nothing in writing. An insider further reports that Haynes also fired all the staff lifeguards turning responsibilities over to outsourcing.

What is a cardiac arrhythmia?

A cardiac arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including heart disease, electrolyte imbalance, and stress.

While some arrhythmias are benign and require no treatment, others can be life-threatening. cardiac arrhythmias can cause the heart to pump less effectively, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

In severe cases, cardiac arrhythmias can cause cardiac arrest. Treatment for cardiac arrhythmias vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition.

What else…?

Anna Correa, Menin’s Communications Director, also shared that the victim passed away in Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens. The cause of death was an accidental drowning.

An examination by the medical examiner’s office found that the victim had a cardiac arrhythmia, a heart rhythm issue that prompted the death. The Medical Examiner’s Office discovered it through genetic testing, postmortem. Whether the victim was aware of his condition is not known.

The coroner’s report is only available to family or their designees, except in the cases of homicide, which this was not. They are also not allowed to give out the victim’s name.

Because of RIOC’s extreme secrecy, we also do not know if the victim was a resident or, as rumored, from Astoria.

RIOC and the Sportspark Drowning

As we reported, Sportspark fell at that time under the jurisdiction of Altheria Jackson, a nepotism hire asked by RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes, a close friend of over ten years.

While RIOC refuses to release relevant invitation, a letter of protest against Haynes, produced by anonymous employees, offered details. The whistleblowers say that video shows that lifeguards under Jackson’s control were not at their stations when the drowning occurred.

Video, they also say, shows a chaotic scene after the victim was brought up from the bottom of the pool. Other swimmers, not RIOC’s lifeguards, were the first to try resuscitating him.

Why RIOC refuses answering questions is unknown.

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