Boy underwater in Sun Prairie pool for more than 3 minutes

Parents critical of supervision at high school pool during March incident
Boy underwater in Sun Prairie pool for more than 3 minutes
Jackie Musgray and Andrea Allen, Travonne Allen's parents.

A 13-year-old Sun Prairie seventh-grader was underwater for three minutes and 19 seconds before being rescued at the city’s high school pool back on March 20. That is one of the details uncovered by News 3 after reviewing hours worth of video footage obtained from the Sun Prairie Police Department.

Travonne Allen was participating in the second day of a two-day swim class when he nearly drowned. He and 130 other students from Patrick Marsh Middle School had been bused to the high school for the early-morning activity when the incident occurred. None of the three lifeguards on duty noticed him at the bottom of the pool until a fellow student alerted them. The pool manager jumped in, pulled him out of the pool and stayed with him until an ambulance arrived.

“I just remember being in the water, struggling to come up,” said Allen in an interview at his house.

He is back at school and running track with no lasting physical effects, according to his parents.

“I remember losing my last breath and telling myself I need to get air and I blacked out,” said Allen.

His parents are thankful he survived, but remain critical of the lack of supervision that led to the near drowning in the first place.

“It’s not acceptable, not acceptable, it’s just not,” said Andrea Allen. “He could have easily been dead in three minutes and 19 seconds and that’s the fact I’m not going to let go.”

Boy underwater in Sun Prairie pool for more than 3 minutes

The video shows Travonne jumping into the pool on top of another student after being pushed into the deep end multiple times himself.

His father, Jackie Musgray, a former lifeguard himself, said that activity alone should have required both boys being pulled out of the pool immediately, but the adult supervising the area allowed the horseplay to continue.

“Every pool I’ve ever (gone) to, you had no running, no diving (on people),” said Musgray. “It’s heartbreak to see all the things that happen right next to the people, right in front of their faces and nobody said anything. I just couldn’t believe it.”

The Sun Prairie School District sent out an email to all of the parents in its district on Tuesday afternoon, in advance of the News 3 story, providing more details about what happened on March 20. Last week, District Administrator Tim Culver said discipline was being discussed for the faculty members involved and that his focus was on preventing a situation like this from happening again in the future.

“You have a lot of kids in an unstructured space and lifeguards are supposed to do what lifeguards are supposed to do, so a lot of things (from the incident) bother me and the question is how can you correct that?” Culver said. “I think when there’s an accident, something right didn’t happen and it needs to be corrected.”

“My number one mission as an educator is that kids are safe,” said Culver.

The Sun Prairie Education Association emailed a statement attributed to its president, Brad Lutes, in reaction to the possible discipline of the faculty members involved.
“We can all agree that, thanks to the efforts of all involved, a tragedy was avoided,” the statement read. “At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. The situation is still under review, and until that’s completed, details can’t be released.”

Travonne’s parents said watching the video, which the school district required them to sign a waiver to view, has been difficult.

“That’s all you’re thinking about, how long is he going to be down there?” Allen said. “Oh my God, I can’t even begin to explain that feeling. It’s hard. It’s just really hard.”

On Wednesday, News 3 will look at what the Sun Prairie School District is doing to prevent incidents like this in the future.