May 31, 2006

Venus Student Drowns During Senior Trip to Fort Worth Lake

By Debra Dennis, The Dallas Morning News

May 24--On the final day of school Wednesday, teachers and counselors at Venus High School will hand out hugs and handkerchiefs instead of final exams.

The 107-member senior class will graduate Thursday without one member.

Tony Lot, a popular student and National Honor Society member, drowned Tuesday during a school-sponsored outing to Fort Worth.

Shortly after 11 a.m., lifeguards pulled Tony, 18, from the bottom of Burger's Lake.

It is not clear whether he knew how to swim, investigators said.

"We're still in shock," said Elizabeth Treadway, superintendent of the Venus Independent School District. "He was a great student. He was one of those students who went the extra mile to help classmates. He was planning to go to college."

Tony had attended Venus schools most of his life, Ms. Treadway said.

He was on a much-anticipated senior outing when the accident occurred.

"From all appearances, it was a very safe place to take our kids," Ms. Treadway said. "They do have a lot of lifeguards, and that's why we felt so comfortable with them going there."

In addition to the trained lifeguards, six school sponsors accompanied 100 students to the private lake at 1200 Meandering Road in northwest Fort Worth.

They were devastated when they heard that Tony had lost his life despite efforts to save him, Ms. Treadway said.

A 911 call was made at 11:16 a.m., officials said.

Lifeguards at the lake had pulled Tony from the water and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation when emergency responders arrived, said Lt. Kent Worley, a spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department.

Paramedics continued trying to save the teen as he was put on a gurney and while he was being transported to Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, Lt. Worley said.

"You always hope for the best in these situations," he said. "They were continuing CPR while transporting him. They wanted to give him every opportunity."

The teen was pronounced dead at noon, officials said.

A woman who answered the telephone at Burger's Lake declined to comment.

According to its Web site, Burger's Lake is a privately run 30-acre park that features a 1-acre spring-fed lake for swimming, two beaches and a staff of certified lifeguards. Alcohol is prohibited.

Seniors at Venus have visited Burger's Lake annually for the last 10 years, Ms. Treadway said.

"It's beyond belief," she said. "You read about these things happening, and until it happens to you, you have no idea what it's like. It really brings it home."

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