Last week, disturbing news came out of the state that grabbed headlines across the nation. The body of a 36-year-old Massachusetts woman went unnoticed for two days in a Fall River public swimming pool, even though it was visited by the public and health inspectors during that period of time.
According to police officials, the woman likely suffered an accident on the water slide when she landed on top of her 9-year-old neighbor boy whom she had taken to the pool with her. The woman did not return to the surface after the incident, and when the boy alerted the life guards on duty, no action was taken.
Reportedly, the 9-year-old boy attempted to save the woman, but couldn’t because she was too heavy and slippery in the water.
The mayor of the city said the death was tragic and ordered an investigation into the matter. He also placed the health inspectors who visited the pool on administrative leave and temporarily closed all deep-water pools in the state. However, many pools began reopening last Friday.
Alarmingly, a photographer visited the pool on Monday morning and took pictures for a feature story that appeared in the local paper with no clue that a body laid at the bottom. A passerby eventually discovered the woman’s body on Tuesday night and alerted police.
Police officers said it was unknown how many people, if any, had seen the body in the pool after the accident and before it was retrieved. The woman’s body is currently going through an autopsy to determine the cause of death, but police believe it was an accident.
This is a tragedy that could potentially lead to a personal injury lawsuit against the city for negligence on behalf of the life guards and inspectors. Because it was a public pool operated by the city, the city could be held vicariously liable for the actions or inactions of its employees.
Source: ABC News, “Massachusetts Woman Dead in Public Pool for Two Days,” Alyssa Newcomb, 6/30/2011.