Friends of Marie Joseph, Woman Found in Public Pool, Thought She'd Gone Home

Marie Joseph went swimming Sunday with a group; her body was discovered Tuesday.

July 1, 2011 — -- Marie Joseph, the woman whose body was found at the bottom of a public swimming pool in Fall River, Mass., on Tuesday night after going unnoticed for two days, was not reported missing because friends and loved ones thought she'd gone home and wanted to be alone.

Candela Matta was at the 12-feet-deep Vietnam Veterans Swimming Pool with the 36-year-old Joseph and a group of people Sunday. Matta told The Associated Press that some friends even waited for Joseph at the pool and a nearby park until Sunday evening.

Her boyfriend, who told the AP that Joseph knew how to swim, said he thought she wanted to be by herself after she did not answer or return his phone calls.

According to law enforcement, Joseph slid down the pool's water slide with a neighbor's 9-year-old son.

"Marie unexpectedly slid down the slide, landing on top of him," Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine said Wednesday. Racine said Joseph went under the water and did not surface. Autopsy results released from the Bristol County District Attorney's office today say that Joseph accidentally drowned.

Police said the boy notified lifeguards immediately after the incident, around 2 p.m. Sunday, but no action was taken. Investigators are looking at surveillance video.

Joseph, a mother of five with the words "Family" and "First" tattooed to her wrists, was found Tuesday evening by passersby.

Although the pool was open to the public, Fall River Mayor William Flanagan said its permit had expired Dec. 31. Two health inspectors visited the pool Monday, Flanagan said, and one of them returned Tuesday and reported that the water was cloudy.

Cloudy Water Played 'Major Role'

B.J. Fisher, head of the American Lifeguard Association, told ABC News today that cloudy water likely played a "major role" in the body's apparently going unnoticed.

Fisher said cloudy water was a problem facing lots of pools during the summer because the water gets dirty when patrons enter it and at times the filtration system may be broken.

"The health department was out there," Fisher told ABC News today. "They even spoke about the cloudiness of the water."

Fisher, who said he knew of at least two incidents in which a body went unnoticed at the bottom of a pool, said lifeguards should always be able to see the main drain cover.

In Fall River, Flanagan placed two inspectors on administrative leave. The staff at the Fall River pool were suspended. Though an autopsy on Joseph's body has been completed, results have not been released.

Twenty-four of the state's deep-water pools were closed until further notice.

What to Look for in Your Pool's Lifeguards

As you head to the pool this holiday weekend, take note of the lifeguards there to protect you and your loved ones:

Make sure there are two lifeguards taking regular breaks.

Make sure the lifeguards are vigilant and are constantly looking around.

And make sure the lifeguards are not using a phone.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.