Glenview PD Completes Drowning Investigation; Releases Report, New Details

The Glenview Police Department has concluded its two-month investigation into the Vicente Cardenas drowning death and has not filed criminal charges. Cardenas, a 4-year-old camper, was on a field trip to Roosevelt Pool with Wesley Child Care June 15.

Before he was , Vicente Cardenas was missing from his Wesley Child Care camp group, according to a recently released Glenview police report of the investigation into his drowning. 


When news of the 4-year-old Glenview boy’s death while on a camp field trip broke in mid June, the community was in shock.

, searching for details and explanations.

released the 85-page report (see attached PDF to read the report in its entirety) to Patch Thursday afternoon, following a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the police report completed Aug. 28, Cardenas was with at the Glenview Park District pool when he went missing from a group of 19 campers (ages 4-5) and eight counselors. He was found unresponsive in the pool’s deep end shortly after.


The report includes interviews with Wesley staff, campers, lifeguards and Park District officials that pieced together the events leading up to Vicente’s death. 

According to the report, Vicente was last seen by a Wesley teacher at the bottom of a pool slide. When she turned to answer a question from another child, she lost track of Vicente, the woman said in interview with the report. 

Witnesses told police the facility was crowded;  officials confirmed 750 swimmers were at the pool that day. 

Wesley teachers also explained in police interviews they were not responsible for watching specific children, but the group as a whole.


Less than five minutes later, and after a group of five campers called for help, lifeguards pulled an unresponsive Vicente from the pool, the report explained. According to the medical examiner, it was undeterminable how long the 4-year-old had been submerged.

CPR was administered and a still lifeless Vicente was taken to Glenbrook Hospital where he died just before 3:49 p.m. Police closed the case without filing criminal charges; a medical examiner’s report ruled the death accidental.

As part of the investigation, police served a grand jury subpoena to the Glenview Park District. They requested any documents related to the case, including internal investigation reports and statements from pool employees.

The Park District’s attorney Ed Dutton has since refused the request citing attorney-client privilege, the report explained.

The Park District has not made any further statements since the report was released. Wesley sent out a letter to parents Thursday afternoon (see attached PDF to read the full letter) expressing the child care center's sympathies. 

DCFS is conducting its own investigation, which has not yet been completed. 

Stay tuned to Patch for updates on this developing story: Like us on Facebook and sign up for our free news alerts. 


G. Pintang August 31, 2012 at 11:45 AM
This story makes my blood run cold. How dare the "caregivers" at Wesley claim that they were responsible for the group as a whole not individual children. The report claims you had 7-8 teachers there with 19 kids-common sense would have had you assign each teacher to 2-3 kids-How does a four year old go missing and 7-8 teachers who are watching the "group as a whole" do not even notice. No one knows what happened to this boy. Wesley didn't do their job and neither did the lifeguards. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? I hope that parents have second thoughts before sending them to Wesley or to Roosevelt pool. A boy is gone and his family ruined all because someone didn't do their job that day. Shame one you.
Becca August 31, 2012 at 01:20 PM
I whole heartildly agree with you G Pintang. However, you cannot blame the life guards. I would still and have sent my child to the pool. I watch my child though, and he can swim. It is the staff, as you said, as a whole, that should have been watching a certain amount of kids. They should have been assigned to a small group and stayed with them, not talk to other counselors. I have seen this happen way too much, being a former pre school teacher. Sometimes they get caught up on the day or what they did that weekend....etc. Talking instead of watching. Thank goodness my child is not of that age to be going to preschool now, because that place is the last place I would send my child!!
A Concerned Parent August 31, 2012 at 01:33 PM
How can an attorney refuse to hand over documents claiming attorney-client privilege? If they had subpoenad the head of the Park District he/she would have had them go through their attorney as standard operating procedure. So for the attorney to then site attorney-client privilege gives the appearance that they may be hiding something. These were interviews and an internal investigation. On another note, maybe this information will be collected in the DCFS report, but how was no one asked (Park District management or Wesley director) about the lifejackets or Vicente's swimming ability? There was neglect by someone and it appears the investigation doesn't look into that at all. Again, maybe it will be done by DCFS. I sure hope so for the sake of the family.
Harry Gio August 31, 2012 at 02:10 PM
sm August 31, 2012 at 03:29 PM
This whole thing is a VERY SAD wake up call for ALL of us!!! I first, would blame the teachers responsible for the children...you are there to CARE for the children NOT talk about the best nail polish color or whatever! Second, I blame the center for not sending properly trained staff to the pool with strict pool policies in place! It's painful to admit fault and it's not just one persons fault here! We can't turn back time but we can do the right thing in the future! I as a parent would NEVER let anyone but myself watch my children in or near water, EVER!!! NO ONES eyes are as watchful as a parents, sorry! Sorry for your loss Cardenas family! I hope that centers everywhere just cancel swimming camps for large groups in crowded pools!
Momof4 August 31, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Not responsible for watching specific children at a pool? Wow.. I guess this is how the day care operates wherever they are. Well it's a good thing the public and people who are sending their children there now know the truth after such a horrible tragedy had to occur. God bless this family.
jimbo August 31, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Ca the parents share in the responsibility? After all, they knowingly sent the child who they know could not swim to a pool.
A Concerned Parent August 31, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Unless I missed something, was Wesley aware that Vicented couldn't swim? Was there any swim test done by either Wesley or the Park District? The only time we filled out anything regarding our child's swim abilities was in the paperwork for the swim class he was to attend as part of the summer camp. "I Am a Wesley Parent Too" do you remember anything questioning swim abilities? If the kids weren't part of camp, how did Wesley know if they could or couldn't?
jimbo August 31, 2012 at 09:27 PM
The camp goes to the pool and as parents you are aware of that. I am just asking the question, if you child cannot swim is that the best camp for them?
Heinz September 01, 2012 at 03:37 AM
This story is still so sad on so many levels. But, how is it that 700 other people didn't see him go under ? I understand it's not their responsiblilty but there were 700 more people there!
Joanna Schneider September 01, 2012 at 03:54 AM
@Heinz, the pool was most certainly busy but to clarify, there weren't necessarily 750 people there all at one time. It's a rolling figure of the number of patrons that were at Roosevelt from the time the facility opened (at 11:30 a.m., I believe), until just after 2:30 p.m. when Vicente was pulled from the pool.
A Concerned Parent September 01, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Who's responsibility is it to give recommendations so changes can be made so another tragedy doesn't occur? If I recall from the earlier stories, the capacity for the pool is over 1,000, so if anything under 750 (as Joanna says it's a rolling number so the exact number at the time of the incident is hard to pinpoint) were there and everyone interviewed said it was very crowded, changes need to be made. The officers mention a grand jury request for more information, but there is no other mention of a grand jury in the report. Was there ever a grand jury investigation into this tragedy? If not, why the mention of the request?
A Glenview Parent September 01, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Readers will find a link here to Wesley's response to the Police report. The dark truth of the Wesley response is that "on paper" it would appear Wesley is doing everything it possibly can to assist the Cardenas family. It is reasonable to assume that Wesley has made daily calls to the family to offer help, maybe send over a meal, set up a memorial fund. right? The truth is Wesley handed the parents back their son's personal items, sanitized the center from his ever attending and then, upon the direction of their attorneys, never communicated with the Cardenas family again. I am not making this up. It should give us all pause.
A Glenview Parent September 01, 2012 at 03:16 PM
In my prior comment, I do not mean to suggest the Wesley staff is not in agony over this, I merely wanted to point out the consequences of what happens when a good group of people (Wesley) suddenly find themselves doing more harm by additionally devastating the Cardenas family with the silence.
Joanna Schneider September 01, 2012 at 03:20 PM
For those who are interested, you can read the letter from Wesley to parents here: http://patch.com/A-xzyg
Malta September 01, 2012 at 03:33 PM
everything and everyone cannot have a 'warning label ' attached. tragedies happen ....of course the family will sue for money;knowing full well that they sent a small child to the swimming pool with the attendant risks. so.....what shall we do? all stay home and pray for safety?.or accept that living has risks involved?
Malta September 01, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Yes! Let's just close all pools. Bike paths and parks. Just in case someone slips and falls. What if the child had simply slipped on the wet concrete;hit his head and had the same unfortunate outcome? Who is at fault? The water company? The concrete company? The staff for allowing home to walk on wet concrete?
Tony D September 04, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Agree with Becca, The life guards we not the issue, the fact the park dist didn't have enough of them on this day, another issue. I was there. Saw the whole thing happen. WAY under staffed poolside for as crowded as it was.
concerned parent of Wesley student September 05, 2012 at 04:09 PM
My children were swimming with Vicente that day as part of Wesley's camp. I had to fill out paperwork before camp started describing their swimming ability. In addition, they were signed up to start swim lessons as part of camp. My children did not wear life vests that day. They are good swimmers for their age. I do wonder if this tragedy could have happened to them as well. If it had been one of my children who had drowned, I am sure I would have been taken to task for not having them wear life jackets or not knowing exactly what Wesley's swim policy was. But I didn't think about that. I assumed my kids were safe even though I am always very cautious when I swim with them. I also know that, contrary to what we see in movies and what we might expect, a drowning person does not flail around in distress and does not scream because he/she can't get enough air. A drowning person can be very still as he/she tries to keep the head above water and get air before quietly sinking. I wonder how many people were right next to poor Vicente and had no idea that he was in distress? Does anyone know how this happened? Not rumors but truth?
concerned parent of Wesley student September 05, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Okay, I just located and read the police report. Wow. Vicente left the area where the teachers and other campers were and went to a different part of the pool that is separate from the toddler area where his classmates were and deeper. So the teachers were watching the kids they had encircled in the toddler area. Vivente went down the toddler slide and then must have gotten out of the water unseen and walked to a different part of the pool and jumped in. The part of the pool where he drowned is not connected to the part where the teachers and classmates were. It appears the in the brief amount of time that the teacher watching the little slide (as opposed to the other teachers who had a semi circle around the other children next to the litle slide) turned to answer a little girl's question, Vicente walked out of the pool in the opposite direction from the other teachers and classmates unnoticed. That explains why my children did not see any of this happen and why my child told me that the teachers had made a circle around him and the other kids and he was told to stay in the circle. This is a tragic accident, and I count my blessings that it was not my kids (it could have been) as my heart breaks for the Cardenas family and the Wesley teachers.


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