Family of Drowning Victim to File Lawsuit
The family of a 5-year-old Arlington Heights boy who drowned last Friday morning in a swimming pool operated by the Prospect Heights Park District is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the park district on Tuesday afternoon (8/12/97) in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The suit, filed by Philip Harnett Corboy Jr. of Chicago's Corboy & Demetrio, alleges that the park district acted negligently when it allowed an opening to exist in a fence separating a playlot where the 5-year-old was playing from the swimming pool area and then compounded the problem by failing to have lifeguards on duty to prevent the child from entering the pool and drowning.
The drowning victim, Demetrios "Jimmy" Danos, was a participant in the Prospect Heights Park District's Big Tot Camp. After finishing a swim class on Friday morning at Lions Pool in Prospect Heights, the little boy dressed and, with 13 other campers, was taken by four counselors to a park district-owned playground adjacent to the pool for an hour of free play. Once in the play lot area, however, the 5-year-old boy returned to the pool area, where other swim classes were taking place, and was left unaccounted for and unattended for more than 45 minutes. He was found at the bottom of the pool. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Two park district lifeguards who were supposed to have been supervising the swimming pool were not on duty at the time Jimmy Danos entered the pool and drowned, Corboy stated.
"The many questions that this tragedy raises need to be answered quickly, especially at this time of year, in order for other parents and children to feel protected in their own swimming pool programs. The Danos family entrusted Jimmy to the Prospect Heights Park District with the belief that he would be protected from danger. But that protection was not provided. No lifeguarding and bad fencing proved fatal in this case. It didn't have to happen and would not have happened if only the Park District had followed the law," Corboy said.
Illinois law, Corboy said, requires swimming programs like those in which Jimmy Danos was enrolled to have lifeguards with CPR and first-aid training on duty to guard the pool, with no other duties other than lifeguarding prescribed to them. At the time the 5-year-old died, none was on duty and supervising the pool, Corboy said.