A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the Kalahari water park in Sandusky, Ohio, by the family of a three-year-old boy who drowned there this August.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo last week by the family of Hassan Itani, of Dearborn, Michigan. The child drowned in a kiddie pool at the water park on August 2, and county investigators found that the water park did not have enough life guards on duty; a problem the state has disciplined the park for in the past.
Itani was swimming in the park’s Outdoor Lagoon Pool with his six-year old brother when his mother lost sight of him from a lounge chair on the pool deck, according to reports from police, emergency personnel and the park. She went to look for him, but lifeguards from the park had already found him floating face down in the water. He was pronounced dead later that day at a nearby hospital.
The water park lawsuit says that the tragedy could have been prevented if more lifeguards had been on duty at the time of the drowning. The family also alleges that the park should have required Itani to wear a life jacket. Park officials say there were 67 life guards on duty at the 250,000 square foot amusement park, with five watching the entire outdoor area.
The facility sees more than one million guests each year, and the family claims that the park should have known that more guards were required at the Lagoon pool, which contained an estimated 50 people at the time of the drowning.
The state has cited the park for safety violations on at least four separate occasions since it opened in 2005. Just this year, Kalahari paid a $29,500 fine over a 2008 complaint that the park was operating eight water rides without enough life guards, and two of the guards the park did have on duty did not have valid certification.