The residents of Huntington Beach are devastated by the death of an 11-year-old girl, who was struck by a lifeguard boat during junior lifeguard camp. Allyssa Squirrell was participating in “speed drop” training, where lifeguards jump off a moving boat to quickly approach drowning victims. According to reports, the senior lifeguard operating the boat was unaware of the girl presence in the choppy water, and accidently ran over her.
This is the first death in the 45-year history of the Huntington Beach lifeguard program, which has trained thousands of kids. Similar programs exist up and down the California coast, and primarily designed as a fun summer camp and not so much a training program.
Huntington Beach closed the junior lifeguard program Wednesday but will resume classes on Thursday. The boat pilot, Greg Crow, an experienced lifeguard was said to be “devastated” by the incident, and is on administrative leave.
Questions remain about the death. For example, many surf rescue boats have guards around the propeller to prevent this very type of incident. Did this one? And want about jet skis. Aren’t they the preferred rescue device for reaching troubled swimmers in the surf? Investigations are underway to determine exactly what caused this devastating accident.
A Facebook group memorializing the girl has been set up. Members can send condolences to the family of Allyssa and suggest raising money for the family. Click here for the Facebook page.
Southern California natives Randy Walton and Scott Barber have been representing individuals and families in matters involving personal injury and wrongful death for more than a decade. All consultations on cases are free and confidential.