City implements changes after May drowning in Tempe Town Lake

Aug 22, 2022, 4:45 AM

Sean Bickings, 34, died on May 28 after drowning in Tempe Town Lake  shortly after police discovere...

Sean Bickings, 34, died on May 28 after drowning in Tempe Town Lake shortly after police discovered there were three outstanding warrants against him. (City of Tempe Photo)

(City of Tempe Photo)

PHOENIX — Following the drowning of a man in Tempe Town Lake a few months ago, the city made changes to how it responds to crises and how to connect people with barriers to services that can aid in ending their homelessness.

“Tragic events can prompt genuine reflection,” City Manager Andrew Ching said in a press release.

“Tempe is a caring, compassionate community, and we take seriously the responsibility to examine our approaches and transform after devastating events.”

The changes range from the addition of water rescue rings around Tempe Town and Kiwanis lakes this fall, a new warrant resolution program and training for police officers on how to use water rescue throw bags.

The department is making a rescue policy modeled on cities with major bodies of water, which is expected to be completed before the end of summer, city officials said.

Sean Bickings, 34 and unsheltered, climbed over a 4-foot metal fence and entered into the lake while police were conducting a background check and found three outstanding warrants.

Bickings asked officers for help and told them he was drowning, but he went under water and his body was found hours later, according to a transcript.

A warrant resolution program is being created to connect people to services by helping address court matters, outstanding fines and fees, and suspended driver’s licenses.

The city is working to make the program available through outreach events or at the court Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. during open walk-in docket hours.

Changes were also made to how calls involving homelessness, homicide, domestic violence and sexual abuse were responded to.

Now, an automatic co-response of CARE 7, the city’s crisis response team, to those calls will be the new model.

A Scottsdale Police Department investigation of the incident determined the officers shouldn’t have attempted a rescue by jumping into water, citing lack of training and proper equipment to complete a rescue.

The three officers who responded to the May 28 call are back on duty following paid administrative leave since the incident.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Phoenix Fire...

Colton Krolak

Phoenix Fire Department breaks ground on state-of-the-art fire station in West Valley

The Phoenix Fire Department broke ground on a new fire station near 91st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road in the West Valley.

2 hours ago

Men entering seminary can spend two years at Nazareth House, which was established by the Diocese o...

Kevin Stone

Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix to create its first full seminary for future priests

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix announced plans Tuesday to create its first full seminary to educate and train future priests locally.

2 hours ago

Mike Broomhead...

Mike Broomhead

Amazing Arizonans: World Champion bull rider Cody Custer discusses rodeo career

On this episode of Amazing Arizonans, Mike Broomhead sits down with 1992 World Champion bull rider Cody Custer.

2 hours ago

a model room showing what the new community looks like...

Eco-conscious, luxury rental community opens in east Mesa

An eco-conscious detached rental community recently opened in east Mesa at Ellsworth Road and University Drive.

2 hours ago

woman cutting a sandwich in the back of house...

Eligible Mesa small business owners can register for low-cost college courses

A new program in Mesa is expanding ways that small business owners can earn college credits. 

10 hours ago

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Judge denies Phoenix request to extend clean up time at The Zone

A judge on Tuesday denied the city of Phoenix’s legal request seeking extra time to clean up the city’s largest homeless encampment.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

City implements changes after May drowning in Tempe Town Lake