Pool Drain Suction: Meant to clean, not kill

St. Louis Park, Minnesota (JusticeNewsFlash.com – News Report) – There are many potential dangers when young children are using a swimming pool. Drowning, diving into shallow water, slipping and falling worry parents as their kids enjoy the pool, but one such incident is not so common. Six-year-old Abigail Taylor was taking a rest from swimming in the Minneapolis Golf Club pool when the pool drain she was sitting on sucked parts of her intestinal tract out of her. After an intense triple organ transplant surgery, and around $30 million dollars in medical costs, she passed away at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Since 1985, there have been more than 150 reported cases of swimming pool drain entrapments, leading to at least 48 deaths and many serious injuries, including disembowelment, of children and adults.

The Minneapolis Golf Club has just reached an $8 million dollar settlement with the Taylor family, after much debate with the Herb Houndt, the club’s president. Houndt claimed that the settlement exceeded the $6 million limit on the club’s insurance, but in response, the club members voted to get a $2 million bank loan to pay the difference. In addition, the Taylor family demanded that the country club fire its general manager and the pool director responsible for the drain’s improper repair. A later investigation also revealed that the pool operators – Sta-Rite – used cheap materials on the drain cover and many times ignored the written safety instructions from the manufacturer.

A similar incident occurred in New Haven, Connecticut when six-year-old Zachary Cohn was trapped underwater when his arm became stuck in an intake valve on the wall in the deep end. Shoreline Pools President David Lionetti was convicted of recklessly causing the boy. Evidence pointed to the company’s failing to install a required safety device that would have prevented the boy’s arm from getting stuck. After their tragedies, the Taylor and Cohn families decided to promote greater safety efforts around pool areas and urge the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress to pass new pool safety laws. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was passed by the Senate in 2007 which requires public pools to incorporate anti-entrapment drain covers and create an incentive grant program for states to adopt more comprehensive pool safety laws. The bill was named for Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III who drowned in 2002 when pulled underwater by a hot-tub drain. The bill prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers that don’t meet anti-entrapment safety standards. Senator Amy Klobuchar added another provision that will require such protections as a simple technology that would shut off suction when a drain is blocked. These laws and regulations must be followed, all precautions taken, for the sake of young lives.

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