AUGUSTA, Ga. (NewsNation) — When the mother of a 4-year-old Georgia boy signed him up for swim lessons in June, it was supposed to be a safeguard for summer fun.
Instead, he drowned June 14 during that very lesson meant to keep him safe.
No one knows how little Israel “Izzy” Scott got into the deep end, or when. He was found as his group swim lesson was ending, and despite immediate CPR, he couldn’t be revived.
Ironically, his mother, Dori Scott, says Izzy didn’t want to go to the swim lesson because he said he was afraid of drowning. She assured him that wouldn’t happen.
Now, the family is still looking for answers, and asking why laws put in place for children’s safety wouldn’t apply for their child.
The lessons were done at a private residence where the instructor was using the pool, and charging for group lessons.
A YouTube video from 2017 appears to show the instructor, Lexie TenHuisen. She’s well-known and highly recommended for her 49 years of experience.
Izzy’s mother says she was told parents couldn’t stay because it would be a distraction, so she was waiting in her car.
“One of the moms said, ‘Come get your baby,'” Scott said. “I was wondering why, and I saw tears in her eyes.”
TenHuisen told investigators Izzy participated in the last activity of the lesson — collecting pool toys from the bottom of the shallow end. She was praising him and telling him how good he did.
Then, she had them all swim across the shallow end and she followed “the last child out of the pool.” As she was drying off, Izzy was spotted at the bottom.
But no one saw how he got there.
“I heard someone say he was in the deep end,” Scott said. “I was, like, ‘the deep end?’ I was looking, watching him, crying, screaming, they’re doing CPR; he never coughed up. I could tell he’d been under the water for some time.”
The sheriff says there won’t be any criminal charges because while there may have been negligence, his department did not find it criminal.
“Criminal negligence is an act, or a failure to act, which demonstrates a willful and wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others,” Burke County, Georgia Sheriff Alfonzo Williams said.
NewsNation’s attempts to reach the instructor were unsuccessful. Williams says she has received death threats, so her phone and social media accounts are now inactive.
Scott family attorney Lee Merritt believes they have a case.
“The intention simply means that she was conscious when she made certain decisions that resulted in the death of Israel Scott,” Merritt said.
He says Georgia law calls for a maximum of six beginning-swimmers per instructor.
“The Scott family paid for professional aquatics instructor to provide their 4 1/2-year-old with lessons,” Merritt said. “We think there were about nine to 10 children taking the class at the same time as Israel, but there was only the one instructor responsible for watching them.”
And he says they’re also learning of previous concerns at TenHuisen ’s swim lessons
“We’re hearing accounts of children who are under-supervised, near drowning incidents, parents who have pulled themselves or pulled their young children out of the class because of safety concerns,” Merritt said.
The district attorney provided a statement, saying no decision on charges has been made. A panel will review the evidence and make a decision.
The Scotts haven’t decided if they’ll take any legal action, but Izzy’s mom wants everyone to know what can happen.
“I would advise if they tell you not to stay, take your child out,” Scott said. “But that’s just me.”
NewsNation affiliate WJFB contributed to this report.