Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.
Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.

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Pool drowning case leads to criminal conviction, civil lawsuit

A pool company owner recently pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the 2007 drowning death of a six-year-old boy. The pool company had failed to install a required safety device in the pool that would have reduced the pool drain’s suction if something foreign was caught in it. The boy’s arm became caught in the drain and the suction was so powerful that the boy’s father could not pull him off the drain before he drowned.

A civil lawsuit in the case is still ongoing, but pool safety advocates hope the first criminal conviction of a pool company owner will cause pool installers and operators to make safety a higher priority. Deaths and injuries caused by someone (often a small child) being caught in a pool drain are called entrapments. According to a recent article by The Wall Street Journal on pool safety, there were 83 entrapments and 11 deaths reported from 1999 to 2008.

A federal law, the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, was passed by Congress the same year the little boy died to try to prevent entrapment deaths and injuries. This federal law was named after a seven-year-old girl who drowned in 2002 when her body was trapped on the bottom of a spa by a drain’s suction. The law has led to some improvements, but it only applies to public pools. States must regulate private pools. Pool safety advocates say that they have had to constantly fight pool companies and operators to add more safety measures; this criminal case may result in more safety measures being adopted by pool companies.


Owning up to a boy’s death (The Wall Street Journal)

John P. Aldrich
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