Baltimore Health Department on Louis Lowenthal Death: ‘This [Almost Nothing] Is All We Have’

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Cantankerous sort that I am, your correspondent has been demanding answers from Maryland and Baltimore public officials on the October 2012 drowning death of North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmer Louis Lowenthal at the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center, a public pool.

You know, answers beyond the assumption that death without the attention of a lifeguard at such a facility is not just company policy in swimming. Answers beyond NBAC’s cookie-cutter seminar on shallow water blackout syndrome.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, headed by Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, released a redacted incident report, with no coherent justification for the redactions, from Meadowbrook Aquatic Center — which is owned by Hall of Fame coach Murray Stephens, who resigned as club CEO following sex abuse allegations yet still collects hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in NBAC rental fees. Maryland said to ask the Baltimore Health Department about what happens next. As for Meadowbrook’s illegally tardy filing of the incident report and the incomplete or false representations therein … well, heck, that’s just the way it goes. It’s not like this is a life-or-death thing, after all. Oh? It is?

Tiffany Thomas Smith, chief spokesperson for Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, this morning issued the following statement to Concussion Inc.:

“Our pool regs are nearly identical to State regs and primarily concern the structure and the facilities, safety equipment needs etc., appropriate chlorine levels and so forth. Let me know what else you need here, but I think this is all we have.”

I am struck by how, yesterday, I mocked the city health department by questioning whether it gave “a quart of chlorine” about public safety, and how the department has dutifully and robotically responded, Onion-like, with a reference to “appropriate chlorine levels.”

Letting Commissioner Barbot know what else I need, I recited our original questions about whether there is any follow-up of any kind anticipated — perhaps a site visit by an inspector, or a letter questioning the adequacy of lifeguard staffing at Meadowbrook and spurring corrective measures for the future. I also asked whether the city will release an unredacted version of the incident report supplied by Maryland, which we’ve already published.

Standing by.

Irv Muchnick
[email protected]

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick