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Mazow|McCullough, PC Files Drowning Lawsuit

Against CampGroup, LLC, Lakeside Retreats, LLC and Town of Easton as a Result of Teen Drowning Death

This action ensued as a result of the drowning death of a 15-year-old boy and the physical and emotional injuries sustained by his twin brother.  The client and the brother were students at the Town of Easton’s Oliver Ames High School (“OAHS”) and joined the OAHS football team on a pre-season trip to Camp Cobbossee in Monmouth, Maine, on August 22, 2007.

Following football practice on August 23, 2007, the client drowned in the lake at the camp.  The brother, who was also in the lake and witnessed the drowning, suffered physical and emotional injuries as a result.  A lawsuit was brought against CampGroup, LLC, and Lakeside Retreats, LLC, the owner and operator of Camp Cobbossee, as well as against the Town of Easton (“Easton”).  The lawsuit is pending in Bristol Superior Court in Massachusetts.

Details of the Drowning Case

On August 22, 2007, the client, the brother and the OAHS football team traveled by bus to Camp Cobbossee.  On the morning of August 23, 2007, the upperclassmen, including the brother and the client, participated in a three-hour football practice.  At approximately 11:30 a.m., the client and the brother went to the waterfront.  The camp provided only one lifeguard and no supervisors from Easton went to the waterfront to supervise.

At shortly after 11:30 a.m., the client and the brother entered the water beyond the U-shaped dock and, following the lead of several students, began to swim without a counselor/coach or rescue tube towards an island.  The island was located approximately 150 yards from the shore.  Camp Cobbossee owned the island, and Lakeside advertised on its website that this was “a great spot for island swims and adventure programs.”

Actions of the Lifeguard

The lifeguard did not inform the students that they could not swim to the island.  He did not instruct them that they needed a counselor/coach to go with them.  He did not provide them with rescue tubes.  He did not inform the students that only competent deep water swimmers could swim to the island.  He simply watched.

While the students were swimming to the island, the remaining students within the dock area were engaged in “horseplay” and were throwing each other in the water (another violation of the Waterfront Rules to which the lifeguard took no action).  While the lifeguard was distracted by the students within the dock area, he tried to keep an eye on the students swimming back from the island.  The lifeguard either ignored, forgot or made a conscious decision to disregard the rules of lifeguarding which he learned from both the American Red Cross and while at the Camp.

Swimmer in Distress

As they were about halfway to the island, the client and the brother both started to yell to the lifeguard to save them.  Despite this, the lifeguard claims that there was no indication of them struggling or being in distress.  As the lifeguard remained on the dock, the twins continued to yell for help and splash in the water.  Instead of jumping in to assist, the lifeguard “told them to stop messing around” and asked them if they were serious.  The lifeguard then asked some team members behind him if the twins were joking.  In the meantime, the client and the brother continued to splash and yell for help.

The lifeguard states that at this point, one of the twins (the client) started to go underwater “more frequently.”  The lifeguard eventually ascertained that the client was actively drowning, so he jumped into the lake.  He began to swim to where the client had submerged.  However, he couldn’t find the client.  He yelled for someone to call 911 but unfortunately there were no adults on the shore to offer assistance.  The local police were not called until 12:02 p.m.  The lifeguard was unable to control the chaos that erupted at the beach.

Arrival of Police

The Chief of Police in Monmouth testified that when he arrived at the waterfront he “saw 50 or 60 teenagers, all males, in the water yelling, screaming, swimming, in boats, on body boards, swimming without preservers.  It was chaos.  It was complete chaos.”

It took some time for rescue personnel to clear the water of students so they could begin to search for the client.  The lifeguard’s inexperience was further established when he was unable to accurately point out where the client was last seen.  The client’s body was located at 1:25 p.m., approximately two hours after he drowned.  He was found in 12 feet of cold, murky water, lying on his back.  The client was brought to shore and pronounced dead.

The brother was able to swim to a buoy.  He testified at his deposition that the last vision he saw of his twin brother was his hand going underwater.  When he returned to shore, he waited in a rescue vehicle for word of his brother’s whereabouts.  He was cold, shaking and bordering on shock.  He was soon told that his brother was dead.

Filing Suit in a Drowning Case

Suit was filed against CampGroup, LLC, Lakeside Retreats, LLC and Easton.  All defendants have denied that they were responsible for the tragic drowning of the client and the injuries sustained by his brother.  There is a trial date scheduled for February 2011.

Mazow & McCullough, PC has broad experience and expertise in pursuing drowning accidents, swimming pool drowning cases, and open water drowning cases.  The law firm, based in Salem, Massachusetts, has produced superb results in a large number of personal injury cases. Contact the Massachusetts personal injury law office of Mazow|McCullough, PC today for a free legal consultation.

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