LAKEVIEW — A child remains in intensive care at a Portland-area hospital following an incident Friday evening at a Lake County hot springs that nearly resulted in a drowning.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Lakeview Disaster Unit responded to an emergency call on Friday evening, Dec. 6 of reports of a 4-year old child unresponsive at Hunters Hot Springs, located just north of Lakeview. According to a Probably Cause Affidavit released by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the child was transported to Lake District Hospital and intubated for ventilation, then airlifted to Portland, where they remain in intensive care.
The child at the time had been under the supervision of Sheila Ray Foster, according to the report, who was in the deep end of the hot springs pool with a friend, Gregory Holcomb. The adults reported they were on their own in the deep end while the 4-year old child was in the shallow end of the pool.
Foster informed law enforcement that it was dark with no lights around the pool, the pair were not wearing their glasses, and it was very hard to see. The affidavit stated that they took their eyes off of the child for a minute, and he was gone. Foster also admitted that she had left the pool area to smoke marijuana.
The mother of the child arrived on scene at lake District Hospital while the child was being treated, and reportedly told law enforcement at the time that Foster was aware that the child could not swim.
Foster was arrested in regards to the incident early Saturday morning. At the time of publication it had not been announced whether or not the Lake County District Attorney’s office would pursue a Grand Jury indictment.
In the wake of the incident, Hunter’s Hot Springs management announced new policies for the popular resort, effective immediately in light of Friday’s near-drowning. Going forward Hunter’s Hot Springs will only be accessible via monthly membership fees at a cost of $50, rather than day-use or group fees. No one under the age of 18 will be permitted in the hot springs, without exception. Further, anyone caught trespassing or violating these rules will be prosecuted on a civil and criminal level.
Hunter’s Hot Springs is a natural geothermal spring named after Harry Hunter, who purchased the site in 1923. It includes a lodge and rooms, and is best known for “Old Perpetual,” a manmade geyser resulting from a well-drilling attempt onsite of the hot springs that for a time was Oregon’s only continuous geyser. Over many decades since its inception the geyser has become more sporadic in its eruptions, but routine eruptions remain visible from Highway 395.
In addition to Hunter’s Hot Springs, Lake County also includes Summer Lake Hot Springs, a hot spring and lodging resort north of Paisley.
Requests for comment from Hunter’s Hot Springs were not returned prior to publication.