Police: 17 Year old Dies After Swimming Incident at Oakledge Park

Burlington, Vermont - Burlington Police say the swimmer that died from a swimming incident at Oakledge Park on Monday was Christian Kibabu, 17, of Burlington. 

According to police,  Kibabu and his friends were swimming to the tower structure on Lake Champlain when Kibabu became tired and went underwater. 

Police say his friends tried to help him but were also tired and were not able to get him out of the water. 

Several agencies responded including Burlington Police along with the Burlington Fire Department and the
United States Coast Guard among others. The Colchester Technical Rescue and Dive Team immediately responded.

Friends of the swimmer continued to look in the area and members of the Colchester Technical Rescue Team began diving in search of the swimmer.

After rescue crews found Kibabu, he was transported to UVM Medical Center. He died at the hospital. 

Police say an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. Foul play is not suspected.

The Burlington School District sent the following statement on Kibabu's death.

It is with great sadness that we inform the community that Burlington High School rising senior Christian Kibabu drowned in a tragic swimming accident [Monday] afternoon at Oakledge Park. Christian was a beloved student, friend, teammate and member of our Burlington School Community. The District expresses its deepest condolences to his family in the wake of this loss.

“Christian was the type of student that you wish you had more of,” said Mario Macias, BHS Guidance Director and Christian's advisor. “Christian had a lot of friends and was highly respected by his classmates, faculty and staff at BHS.”

Christian was a hard-worker in the classroom, and was passionate about going to college. He had a 3.0 GPA and was scheduled to take to Advanced Placement (AP) courses his senior year. He was a member of the BHS 2016 Division I State Champion soccer team and also competed in track for the Seahorses.Our District is grieving with the news of this tragic loss.

Counseling support is available for students and community members at Burlington High School this week from 8AM to 4PM.

Burlington's Mayor Miro Weinberger sent the following statement. 

“It is with a heavy heart that I express my condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Christian Kibabu. Our City has lost a son, an athlete, a student, and a friend. He was 17 years old.

“During the rescue attempt we witnessed our community bring all of its considerable resources to bear in an attempt to save Christian: divers, boats, a helicopter, fire and police personnel, even volunteers on paddleboards. So many times in the past, our efforts have averted tragedy. But, sadly not yesterday.

“Any time a loss of life like this occurs, the men and women responsible for our community’s search and rescue programs evaluate their work to determine what, if anything, can be done to improve the chances of successful rescues going forward. Reviews like these are the essence of professional public safety operations. The fire and police departments, in coordination with their counterparts outside the City, will be conducting such an evaluation in the coming weeks.

“Lake Champlain is one of Burlington’s most treasured resources, but it is not without its inherent hazards. The ever-changing conditions of our lake mean that no two swims will be the same, and we urge swimmers to exercise great caution in the water.

Lifeguards being added to Oakledge Park and the removal of the tower structure are changes Mayor Weinberger says the city is considering in response to this incident.



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