Kasson family pushes for change after August high dive incident

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(ABC 6 News) – One family in Kasson is pushing for more safety at the Kasson Aquatic Center after their son was hurt over the summer.

Crystal and Jim Whitmarsh’s six-year-old son, Micah, fell off of the ten-foot high dive at the Kasson pool and landed on the cement below in August. Micah was taken by ambulance to St Marys in Rochester. He has since recovered physically, but the trauma from the accident still weighs heavily on him and his family.

“It’s one of those phone calls you just never want to receive,” Crystal Whitmarsh said. “But we’re so thankful that it wasn’t worse. It could’ve been a lot worse.”

Micah suffered jaw fractures on both sides of his face, his teeth, a fractured hand, and a concussion.

Crystal was not at the pool that day, but her husband Jim and oldest son, Isaiah, were.

“They could hear him hit the cement and so I think that was really scary just to realize like that’s my brother, you know?” Crystal said.

Up until now, there was no height requirement or any restrictions for the high dive.

After the accident, Crystal started looking into options to facilitate change alongside the City of Kasson.

“Our main priority here is always to make sure that the kids are safe, whoever comes and uses our facility, we want them to be safe here,” Ron Unger, Park and Rec Supervisor for the City of Kasson, said.

Unger and Whitmarsh met with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust after the accident. The League recommended a height restriction for the high dive to be 56 inches, or about 4 feet 6 inches. Unger then recommended it to the park board.

“They made their recommendation to the city council and then the city council implemented the recommendation for the height restriction and the lifeguard up on the platform at the last council meeting,” Unger said.

Crystal said this is a step in the right direction, but she thinks there are probably even more safety measures that could be done.

“So, in like my mama heart, I would say just take it out, right? Do we even need it?” she said.

Although Micah is still recovering from the mental scars three months later, Micah told his mom he will never go off another high dive in his life.

“Like the other day we were in the bathroom and he looks up at the ceiling and says ‘Is that how high I fell from?’ You know and then I was like ‘No buddy, it was a little higher than that.’ But he doesn’t talk much more about it I just give him the opportunity when he’s open to it,” Crystal said.

Micah isn’t the first one to fall off of the high dive. About a month before his accident, another kid fell too,

“We can’t always protect our kids even though we want to. Thankfully, we believe that God was with him that day and made sure that nothing more serious happened,” Crystal said.

She added there was so much support from the Kasson community.

“Just the outpouring of love and support and so many people who said like ‘man, we saw that happen and we were really praying for you guys,’ That was so powerful,” she said.

Crystal still hopes the City of Kasson will consider even more changes than just the height requirement.