Several drownings last summer have resulted in legal action.
The family of Hassan S. Itani has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kalahari Resorts seeking financial
compensation in excess of $75,000 to cover medical and burial expenses, mental anguish and other losses. Three-year-old Itani drowned Aug. 2 after reportedly wandering away from his mother while the family was visiting the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.
The family alleges that Kalahari Resorts did not live up to its claim that “in all cases Kalahari Resort exceeds the staffing requirements set forth by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.” According to the complaint, the defendants also failed to enclose the children’s pool area to prevent kids from accessing other deeper-water amenities; ignored stated policy requiring all children under 48 inches to wear life jackets; employed poorly trained guards; allowed overcrowding in pools; and failed to clearly denote a change in pool depth using barriers and float lines.
“This case emphasizes the high degree of responsibility that an amusement park operator undertakes when they make an advertisement to the public of safety,” said attorney Shereef Akeel, who represents the plaintiffs.
No one from Kalahari Resorts responded to requests for comment.
In Providence, R.I., family members of 9-year-old drowning victim Jameson Auciel have filed a $15 million wrongful death claim with City Hall. On Aug. 21, Jameson was discovered floating face down in a 4-foot-deep area of the McGrane Pool in Providence. The official investigation report noted that at the time of the drowning, fewer than 70 people were in the pool area, which has a capacity of 230 bathers.
Lary I. Zucker, an attorney with Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, said both sides are always profoundly affected in these kinds of tragic cases.
“One of the issues that I think the aquatics industry as a whole should focus on is the goal of trying to remind parents that a waterpark can only do so much,” said Zucker, who specializes in aquatic and amusement claims and risk management, and is also the founder of the International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association.
“As a risk management measure,” he added, “perhaps greater efforts should be made to enforce the idea that safety of individuals, especially children, is a shared responsibility.”