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This deer took a plunge into an indoor Ontario rec centre pool. Chaos ensued

A day at the pool took an unexpected turn in LaSalle, Ont., near Windsor, on Sunday after a deer broke through a window during swimming lessons.

Francesco Siino said he was at the Vollmer Recreation Complex for his son’s swimming lesson, which had just finished, when another parent ran into the changing room and said there was a deer in the pool.

“I kind of just brushed it off as, ‘Yeah, OK, right.’ And then all of a sudden, everybody that was in the lobby or the pool was rushing into the changing (rooms),” he said.

“It went into the glass (window) into the hot tub originally, and then it came out of the hot tub. … That’s when everybody freaked out and ran out. Then it started running around the main pool and then I showed up, and I got the video of it jumping inside the pool.”

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Siino estimates that it took staff about 15 or 20 minutes to get the deer out of the rec centre and the whole situation wrapped up by around 3 p.m. Sunday.

Patti Funaro, director of culture and recreation in LaSalle, commended the quick thinking of staff in circumstances no one could have expected.

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“Everyone remained very calm and just sort of did what they would normally do for any other type of scenario in getting all the patrons out of the pool so that no one’s safety was at risk. Thankfully, the deer was able to go out the front doors and not into the rest of the building – we had hockey going on and figure skating and all kinds of other activities – so thankfully it was a quick ordeal and no one was hurt.”

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There were roughly 30 people in the pool between kids and instructors, Funaro estimated, as well as parents and guardians on the deck. They were evacuated through the lobby into the change rooms and the deer was then corralled outside through the lobby.

The complex opened in 2008 and this is the first incident of its kind, though it is not uncommon to see deer in the area.

“I am not a deer expert or a wildlife expert,” Funaro said. “I did read something online that sometimes when they see their reflection in a window, they will do that. So that could be it. LaSalle has lots of naturalized areas. There are a lot of deer. I don’t see them very often at the Vollmer, but it is quite a wide open space so (it) obviously was wandering in the area for whatever reason.”

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Funaro does not have a damage estimate but said that a large pane of glass will need to be replaced and there’s also the cost of cleaning up the glass and disinfecting the pool.

“The chlorine has to be brought to a certain level in order to kill any bacteria. That’s through the public pool regulations,” she explained. “It has to stay there for 12 hours, and you have to bring that back down. Staff have done that and then they’ve backwashed and removed some water, added some fresh water, which makes the water cold so now they’re trying to get it back up to a comfortable temperature for the patrons.”

“(The window is) boarded up on the outside but they do have a company coming to fix the inside and remove all the broken glass that’s still in the pane.”

She said she believes the pool will reopen in another day or two and added that any updates would be posted to social media. She also said if any swimming lessons are impacted, she expects there would be a makeup class scheduled or a credit provided. So far, only aquafit classes have been impacted, which are membership-based.

As for the deer, staff believe it only suffered very minor injuries in the incident. Funaro said she was told the deer was moving normally and while there was some blood on the deck, it was a minimal amount that staff believe was likely caused by the deer stepping on a shard of glass.


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