The family of a young man who drowned during a lifeguard tryout is claiming wrongful death.
Earlier this year, Jack Jakubek, 22, drowned during Nauset Beach lifeguard tryouts in Orleans, Mass. The attorney for his estate, Jim Grumbach of Boston Law Collaborative, sent a letter to the town of Orleans and its insurer, MIIA, demanding $100,000 in a wrongful death claim.
The letter claimed Orleans was negligent in seven areas. It stated the water temperature was quite low, at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Pilgrim Lake, where the tryout was being held, and that the tryout course that was too far away from shore. Additionally, some of these claims were directed toward a lack of accountability for the swimmers. The letter said that there was no “buddy system” in place nor was anyone assigned to maintain a count of the 14 participants. The test consisted of a run, followed by a swim, then another run. The letter said Jakubek drowned during the swim portion of the test, and that neither his absence nor his body were discovered until the final run portion of the test — approximately 30 minutes later.
It went on to say that swimmers were not provided with emergency flotation buoys, which had been provided in the past. The single lifeguard, who was in the water during the test, informed investigators that Jakubek raised his hand in distress while he was in the lake and that he saw Jakubek go under the water, the letter stated. However, the lifeguard did not respond because he thought that Jakubek was just “kidding,” it alleged.
Jakubek's family said that the young man was in good health and a “strong, experienced swimmer” who had worked as a lifeguard in Cape Cod, Mass., the previous two summers. He had nocturnal epilepsy but rarely suffered seizures, only at night, and was being treated for it, the letter added.
After weeks of silence, representatives from both Orleans and its insurer have recently begun corresponding with Grumbach. The parties have been communicating and are awaiting Jakubek’s autopsy report.
“After that I’m hoping we can start to negotiate,” said Grumbach. “I’m hoping to avoid taking it to court.”
Grumbach demanded $100,000 because it is the statutory cap in the state of Massachusetts for a claim of personal injury or wrongful death.