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Group home worker fired after 13-year-old drowned at Edgewater

Admin said teens never should have been at beach
Posted at 6:19 PM, Jul 11, 2018

The administrator of the group home where a 13-year-old lived before he drowned last week said a childcare specialist has been fired after taking the victim and two other teens to the beach Friday night.

"We at Quality Care had no knowledge at all that she was at the beach," said Desmond Johnson, administrator of the group home. "We didn't know about it, we would have never condoned it. We would have told her, 'Absolutely no, don't go out there.'"

Johnson said the worker broke the rules when she made an unscheduled trip to the beach without approval. He said the group arrived around 7 p.m. when the lifeguards end their shifts for the day and that rough conditions on Lake Erie only made the decision worse.

"If I'm going to have kids somewhere, I want to make sure they're safe," Johnson said. "No lifeguards there? We've got situations like this, so it's a bad situation."

RELATED: Beachgoers, parents want more lifeguard oversight after 13YO boy found dead in Lake Erie

That situation turned deadly when Shaud Howell drowned. Rescuers recovered the 13-year-old's body on Sunday.

Metroparks Rangers, the state and Cuyahoga County, which placed Howell in the group home, all have ongoing investigations into what happened.

But Johnson insisted the childcare specialist is not being made a scapegoat to cover for Quality Care Residential Homes.

RELATED: Family of 13-year-old who drowned at Edgewater Beach speaks out

"It's not even about that," Johnson said. "It's about she didn't follow protocol. She even told me herself, 'You know, Mr. Johnson, I shouldn't have done it. I shouldn't have gone to the beach without asking you guys.'"

Johnson admitted he is not sure what happened Friday night at Edgewater and not sure whether anyone was actually watching the three teens at the beach.

"The stories don’t make any sense to me right now," Johnson said. "We're still trying to figure this whole thing out. I’m hoping once they put all this together, we’ll have a better understanding of exactly what happened out there. Where was she at, what she did. I don’t know. I need to know that. Moving forward, I need to know exactly what she did out there."

Johnson said the worker had been with the group home for about four years and didn't have any problems before this latest incident.

That worker didn't return a phone call when News 5 tried to get her side of the story.