Instructor charged in 4-year-old’s Burke County drowning

Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 11:50 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2022 at 1:11 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - An arrest warrant has been issued in the June drowning death of a 4-year-old boy on his second day of swimming lessons.

The family of Israel Scott said District Attorney Jared Williams met with them Friday to tell them an arrest warrant would be issued for the instructor of the lessons at a home on Deer Run Road in Burke County.

Williams’ decision to charge Lexie Tenhuisen with involuntary manslaughter comes after the Burke County Sheriff’s Office declined to pursue charges in the case. The decision came a couple of months after the case landed in Williams’ hands and more than six months after Izzy died.

The charge is a misdemeanor, according to Williams, who said he instructed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to issue the warrant.

A legal expert told us the maximum penalty is 12 months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

“The truth is this: nothing done in a courtroom can ever repair the harm done to Izzy’s family,” Williams said in a statement. “Many have called for felony charges and a lengthy prison sentence for this offense. Neither the law nor the facts support such a result. After discussing this decision, both the family and the state of Georgia are in lockstep that the aim of this prosecution is not retribution, but accountability under the law.”

The swimming instructor didn’t live in Burke County, traveling from North Carolina to hold summer swim lessons in a backyard pool at someone else’s home.

There were 10 kids in Izzy’s swim class. As we’ve reported, there are few, if any, regulations for private citizens who teach swim lessons for money.

After the Burke County sheriff announced he wasn’t charging anyone, Izzy’s great-aunt Lydia Glover Fields said: “We are fighting mad. We will not stop until Izzy gets justice and legislation is passed to save every other child from his watery grave.”

The idea of legislation seems to have Williams’ support.

“Why should a child so innocent, so precious, leave us so young?” he pondered in his statement. “How could the law be so insufficient, placing no safeguards over the very people who are entrusted as lifeguards over our children? As I have struggled with these questions, I recognize that I can neither question God’s timing nor expect to understand His providence.”

But Williams said one thing he can do is to “use the law to create the change this community wishes to see.”

He said he therefore will offer his support and knowledge of the case and the law to the delegation of the Georgia General Assembly.

“Together with the family we may be able to protect children across this state, striving to ensure no family need ever endure this pain again,’ Williams said. “In the end, I believe Izzy’s legacy will be lasting change.”