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Zachary Stein was charged with reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor after the boy nearly drowned Aug. 3 at a Stamford pool.
Stein was on duty when the boy slipped under water and pulled him to safety once he saw him four minutes later.
Stein's lawyer said a mistake does not constitute a crime, especially considering the 23-year-old's role in saving the boy.
A lifeguard is facing charges after a 5-year-old boy nearly drowned in a pool at a popular sports and recreation complex in Connecticut.
Stamford Police say the lifeguard, 23-year-old Zachary Stein, was on duty at the Chelsea Piers Splash Zone and didn't notice when a child dipped under the water on Aug. 3.
Video shows that he saw the boy about four minutes later, pulled him to safety and was among the people administering life-saving measures when firefighters got to the scene at 12:37 p.m.
Police said that the New Caanan man didn't appear distracted at the time, but it's not clear why he didn't see the boy for so long.
NBC Connecticut reported that police don't believe the child's parents were around when he went under the water.
The child was taken to Stamford Hospital after the near-drowning and was later airlifted to Yale New Haven Hospital.
Police said he has since gone home and has shown excellent signs of recovery. But it isn't known if he suffered any long-term damage.
Police said that in August, Stein hired an attorney who gave investigators a prepared statement on Aug. 21. After Stein was arrested, he was released without bail and is set to appear in court on Sept. 19.
Stein's lawyer, Mark Sherman, said a mistake does not constitute a crime, especially considering Stein's role in saving the boy. He added that his client wasn't reading, texting or talking to anyone else at the time and that he had resigned from the pool as a result.
Sherman said he plans to move to have the charges dropped,
"Not every accident is a crime," he said.
Chelsea Piers, meanwhile, called the near-drowning a "terrible accident." A spokeswoman for the complex said that they were "heartened" by the boy's recovery and were surprised to learn about Stein's arrest.
"We are surprised to learn of the arrest, particularly when the lifeguard charged was one of the first responders, who has been credited by the Stamford Police and others with helping to save the boy's life," a spokeswoman for the company said.
An American Lifeguard Association representative told the Stamford Advocate it is rare for a lifeguard to be charged criminally.