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Lawyer: New Canaan Lifeguard's Focus Was On Boy's Recovery In Near-Drowning

Zachary Stein Photo Credit: Stamford Police Department
Chelsea Piers is on Blachley Road in Stamford. Photo Credit: File

NEW CANAAN, Conn. — The 23-year-old lifeguard from New Canaan who was charged in a near-drowning at Chelsea Piers in Stamford said the 5-year-old boy's recovery is his main concern.

Zachary Stein turned himself in to Stamford police Wednesday and was charged with first-degree risk of injury to a child and reckless endangerment in the Aug. 3 incident. 

His Stamford criminal defense lawyer Mark Sherman said Stein remains "immensely relieved that the child was released from the hospital and is recovering."  

"As a full-time lifeguard at Chelsea Piers for the last five years, the child’s safety and recovery has been his primary concern,” Sherman said in a statement. 

Related story: New Canaan Lifeguard Arrested In Near-Drowning At Chelsea Piers

Stein was one of three lifeguards on-duty in the Splash Zone at Chelsea Piers when the incident happened. The boy who nearly drowned — a 5-year-old from New Canaan — was attending a soccer day camp at Chelsea Piers, police said.

The boy's group was taking a break in the Splash Zone when he became submerged underwater for about 4 minutes, Stamford police said.

Stein was assigned to the pool where the incident occurred, police said.

The boy was unconscious and not breathing when he was pulled from the pool by Stein, who administered CPR with a co-worker, the Stamford Fire Department said.

Stein "immediately provided a written account to his employer the day this happened, and provided additional details to police" about the timeline of events, Sherman said.

Sherman would not comment on any other specifics of the case, but noted that “not every accident or mistake is a crime, especially when first responders are involved.”

Related story: New Canaan Boy Who Nearly Drowned At Chelsea Piers Released From Hospital

Police obtained video surveillance of the incident. 

Stamford Police Lt. Thomas Barcello told the New Canaan Advertiser that Stein was physically present and not distracted when the incident occurred. 

The boy was taken first to Stamford Hospital, then airlifted to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, police said. He was initially unconscious but made a rapid recovery, police said. 

Stamford police called it a "miracle" when the 5-year-old was released from the hospital.

Stamford Police conducted the investigation, including an attempt to interview Stein. He sought out the services of an attorney, who later brought him in with a prepared statement on Aug. 21, police said.

The Stamford Police Department worked with the State’s Attorney’s office, and a warrant was issued for Stein's arrest. 

Stein was charged and released on his own recognizance. Sherman said he expects Stein to enter a plea of not guilty at his arraignment Sept. 19.

The 5-year-old victim is home and shows signs of an excellent recovery, police said. It is not know yet whether he will suffer be any long-term damage from the near drowning, police said.

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