SUNBURY — A judge has directed Knoebels Amusement Resort to produce documents, including surveillance footage, requested by the plaintiffs of an ongoing lawsuit over the death of a boy found floating facedown in the park’s Crystal Pool on July 16, 2016.
In a lawsuit filed in April 2017, Mohamad and Fadma Boudriss, of Lebanon, claim the park was negligent in the death of their 8-year-old son, who was found in 35 inches of water near the small slide in the south end of the pool at 3:16 p.m.
Following a phone conference Thursday on the plaintiffs’ motion to compel more specific discovery, Northumberland County President Judge Charles Saylor compelled Knoebels to produce the following documents:
• Video of the full day that is in possession of Locust Township Police Department;
• Capacity of the pool;
• Certifications for all lifeguards on the date of the incident, including a list of full names and personal files for those people;
• Claims notes; and logs on water clarity and water testing.
The Boudrisses’ lawsuit claims lifeguards and park personnel were “unprepared and slow to respond to the situation following the boy being found unresponsive in the swimming pool” and that the park acted negligently by failing to properly maintain the pool and provide adequate lifeguarding and supervision.
They are seeking more than $50,000 each on counts of wrongful death, survival action, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium from Knoebel Realty LP, Knoebel Realty Managers LLC and H.H. Knoebels Sons Inc.
Knoebels has denied any wrongdoing and argue that the death of the boy was the “direct result” of his mother “failing to supervise and monitor” him.
The Boudrisses have also requested the autopsy report, investigative materials, scene photographs and other related information from Forensic Pathology Associates Inc. in Allentown, where an autopsy was performed.
According to a copy of the Locust Township Police Department incident report, which was attached as an exhibit in a notice of intent to serve subpoena to produce documents, Patrolman Anthony Kopitsky was dispatched to the park and went to the first-aid station, where EMS was treating the boy on the day of the incident.
He spoke with the mother, who kept repeating the phrase “too many people.” She said her son was in the kiddie pool but got out of the sight of the family due to the amount of people.
Family members, she added, circled the pool “for maybe 15 minutes” looking for him. The mother told the officer she then heard a scream and a whistle at the main pool.
The boy’s then-21-year-old sister told the officer that her brother was “severely autistic” and had trouble communicating with people. She added that the pool was “extremely crowded” and they had lost sight of him.
After providing a ambulance escort and alerting Chief Allen Breach of the incident, the officer returned to the park to gather additional information.
A park paramedic, identified as Kimberly Blee, advised the officer that a “wad of blue gum” was pulled out of the boy’s mouth when they tried to intubate him, adding that there did not appear to be any water in the lungs.
Jeffrey Kashner, manager of the pool, provided the officer with a statement from Joseph Colangelo, the lifeguard who found the boy. The lifeguard wrote in his statement that he “thought (the boy) was holding his breath” and had told the boy to get up but had no response. The boy was unresponsive when he tapped him on the shoulder.
Colangelo pulled the victim out of the pool, blew his whistle and “checked for pulse/breathing.” He stated that objects resembling “food crumbs” came out of the boy’s mouth.
A patron who was an emergency medical technician arrived as the boy was pulled out of the water. They began treatment for choking.
Blaine Madara Jr., second in command of the pool, told the officer there were 17 lifeguards on the station and they were changing stations every 15 minutes, noting that there was “lifeguard coverage at all times.” The incident occurred during a rotation, he said.
Kopitsky followed up on the incident the following day, which included an on-site visit to the pool and first-aid station as well as making contact with Coroner Scott Lynn. Lynn later ruled the cause of death as drowning with autism a contributing factor, noting that the boy could have stood up in the 3 feet of water.