http://www.worcestermag.com/blogs/dailyworcesteria/Worcester-crew-team--202252811.html The state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is apologizing for an employee who left Lake Quinsigamond Park Tuesday night and locked the gate, leaving several members of the Worcester High Schools Crew Team, some parents and coaches trapped inside for more than an hour. The group was not released until security personnel from UMass Medical Center across the street arrived with keys. "On behalf of DCR, I would like to publicly apologize to the parents, students and administrators who were inconvenienced at Lake Quinsigamond on Tuesday evening," says Jack Murray, Deputy Commissioner of Park Operations with the DCR. "We wish everyone to know that we take this matter seriously. The DCR employee involved in this incident has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing." Murray did not identify the employee, but said the individual was a full-time staff member who has been with DCR for "some time." He says Priscilla Geigis, director of state parks for the DCR, reached out to Athletic Director Dave Shea Wednesday to apology and "ensure we will do everything necessary" to accommodate the rowing team. He says the department plans to send a letter of apology to the superintendent and "reassure parents their children will be safe." Murray says he has received several phone calls and emails of concern about the incident. It all took place Tuesday night, when parents and city officials say members of the crew team were practicing on Lake Quinsigamond. They say they knew the park was about to be locked, around 5:30 p.m., and were rushing to pull their boats from the water and leave. By the time they got to the gate, it was locked, according to Joe Reilly, a parent who as the practice. Several calls were made to police, but callers were told city police do not have keys to the gate. Eventually, security personnel at UMass were alerted and responded. The group got out around 6:45, according to Reilly. Reilly's wife, Nicole, says she thought it was a joke when her husband called her to say he and several others were locked inside the state-run park after their practice ended. She thought he was joking because just last week, according to Nicole Reilly, one parent ended up locked in the park after telling the attendant she was running in to the boathouse to see if her son was still there. When she returned to the gate, Reilly says, it was locked. On another occasion, Reilly says, a girl was locked in while she was in the bathroom. Murray says he is unaware of any other reports that other people have been locked inside the gates. He says the park typically closes at 5 p.m. during the non-summer season, primarily to cut down on illegal or suspect activity in the parking lot after dark. Park hours are typically extended to 8 p.m. around May. This year, however, the DCR has decided to start keeping the park open until 8 starting Sunday, April 21. The hours notwithstanding, Murray says under no circumstances should any person be locked inside the park and left unattended. "Absolutely not," he says. "It should not happen." On Tuesday, according to Joe Reilly, there were 15-20 rowers, a handful of parents and two coaches at practice, which started between 3:30-3:45 p.m. and, he admits, was running late. Knowing the park would be locked up soon, Reilly says the team rushed to pull all of its boats out of the water. It turns out the weren't fast enough. Reilly says when they got to the gate it was locked. School Committee member Dianna Biancheria says she was alerted to the incident by a phone call from a parent. "I was informed the gates were locked and students, coaches and parents were locked in," says Biancheria. She says she called police and an operator on her 911 call said a car would meet the locked-in group at the gate. However, Biancheria adds, she was told a security guard at UMass Medical Center would have to open the gate because Worcester police did not have a key. Biancheria says Mayor Joe Petty was also notified. In all, Joe Reilly says the group was stuck at the park for more than an hour. A UMass Medical Center security guard unlocks the gate at Lake Quinsigamond, where parents of students practicing for the Worcester Public High Schools Crew team say several of them were trapped after a park attendant locked the gate and left (courtesy photo) Making matters worse, according to both Biancheria and Joe Reilly, the park employee knew the group was still in the park. "We were running late," Reilly says. "All the guy had to do, he could have just said, 'Lock the gate when you leave.' He just locked it and left us all there." Reilly says the issue appears to come down to staffing by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which oversees the park. A DCR spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. Nicole Reilly says she is concerned because Booster Club members are scheduled to meet in the boathouse Wednesday night. "I'm freaking out," Reilly says. "Are we going to be locked in?" Murray says Quinsigamond Park supervisor Bob Grahn is expected to attend the meeting to talk with the team and parents. No one will be locked in the park Wednesday night, says Murray. He also says the DCR is reviewing the policy of who has keys to the gates. "It's our responsibility to make sure those gates are opened and locked by our personnel," Murray says. "We don't want to burden other agencies." Biancheria says she is putting an item about the incident on the agenda for the next School Committee meeting.