Hotel pool searched several times before 8-year-old Ohio boy found dead, police say

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — Ohio police said the Holiday Inn hotel pool where an 8-year-old boy was found dead Monday night was checked multiple times before his body was discovered about nine hours after the search for the child began.

Investigators said the 9-foot-deep indoor pool was so murky the bottom could not be seen from the surface.

The mother of Christopher Johnson, of East Cleveland, called Strongsville police just before 3 p.m. Monday to report him missing.

She told a dispatcher that Johnson, who had autism, was last seen in the Holiday Inn swimming pool with her brother and other children about 25 minutes earlier, and she had gone to the hotel lobby to order lunch.

According to a 911 recording, the mother told a dispatcher she checked the pool as well as she could but failed to get to the bottom, and another woman said she went underwater and did not see Johnson.

At 3:10 p.m., a Strongsville officer reported the family’s hotel room and the pool were both thoroughly checked and suggested concentrating the search in other areas, according to a call log.

The log says police checked all hotel floors and called in outside agencies to assist with a large search of the area surrounding the hotel, including it parking lot, nearby woods and a car dealership. It states that officers again checked the pool around 4 p.m.

According to the log, family members told officers Johnson “does not know how to swim and has wandered off before.”

During the search, Strongsville police sent several alerts to nearby residents, including a text message at around 9 p.m. that urged residents to check their backyards for the missing boy, including checking sheds and underneath decks.

Strongsville Police Chief Mark Fender said officers found Johnson’s body at the bottom of the pool just before midnight. The call log said he had drowned. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said an autopsy was being conducted Tuesday afternoon.

Fender said the incident remained under investigation. No charges had been filed.

A spokesperson for Intercontinental Hotels Group said the property is independently owned and operated.

“This is a tragic event and our hearts and prayers are with the family at this time,” spokesperson Jacob Hawkins said. “The health and wellbeing of guests staying at IHG-branded hotels is always our first priority and we are in touch with the hotel.”

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