After her son was injured in a lazy river, a Michigan mother has filed a lawsuit against the waterpark and the service person responsible for maintaining and repairing its pools and their components.
Alyssa Pappas says her son was injured when he became stuck in the drain in the lazy river of the Avista Ocean Resort, according to a complaint filed June 8.
She is seeking a jury trial against Avista Developments, Avista Rentals, Myrtle Beach Seaside Resorts, the Avista Council of Co-Owners, and a John Doe pool maintenance worker.
The incident occurred on March 19, 2018, when according to Pappas, the boy and a friend were playing in the lazy river and a piece of the boy’s goggles broke off and fell under a grate. Hoping to retrieve it, the boys pried off the safety grate that was covering a powerful suction pipe.
They didn’t have a tool,” said family’s attorney, Mike Morse. “They just moved the grate and a powerful filtration system sucked Evan underwater.”
The boy’s leg became stuck in the pipe, eventually up to the knee, as the boy’s friend tried to pull him out, before he frantically started screaming to nearby adults for help.
A number of adults jumped in to help, including a man who performed underwater mouth to mouth to keep him alive.
After more than six minutes underwater, it took four adults to bend a metal bar and get the boy free.
First responders arrived and began CPR before he was taken to the hospital.
Pappas said that for the next several days her son was kept in a medically induced coma and remained on a ventilator for more than a week.
“You didn’t even know if he was going to open his eyes or what would happen once they did stop the medicine to wake him up,” she said in an interview with NBC News.
Years later, the boy is now back in school in Commerce Township, near Detroit. Shortly after the incident, his mother said he was being monitored for brain damage, but no update was provided. However, according to the lawsuit, the boy has suffered permanent injuries and partial disability, inability to carry on normal activities, future diminution of wages, and more.
Pappas’ lawsuit accuses the resort and its employees of failing to: inspect the common areas for unsafe conditions; hire and train its employees as to proper inspection, repair and maintenance; and hire subcontractors with the appropriate knowledge to inspect, repair, and maintain the pools and lazy river, among other accusations.
They say that the defendants had or should have had knowledge about any defects in the drain in the lazy river and should have remedied those defects.
Morse, the family’s lawyer, said the boy’s injuries were the result of complete negligence.
“They didn’t have proper screws. South Carolina law is very clear that they needed corrosion-proof screws in grates, and they didn’t have it.”
In their response to the complaint, filed in July, the resort denies any structural issues or defects, and stated that the boy’s injuries were not the resort’s fault. Furthermore, they claim the family hasn’t made sufficient attempts to lower their medical costs.
Specifically, they state the family should have taken “reasonable and prudent evasive action to avoid the incident” and didn’t act “as a reasonable and prudent person would have under the circumstances.” It also states that the child’s “alleged injuries were proximately caused by the intervening, and/or superseding acts or omissions of other parties and/ or others for whose conduct these Defendants are not responsible.”
According to court documents, jury selection is scheduled to begin in September, 2023.
Photo credit: Avista Ocean Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC.