THE FAMILY OF a 7-year-old West Philadelphia boy who drowned at a recreation center has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city and the company whose care he was under.
Ja'briel O'Connor died July 19, one day after being found unresponsive at the bottom of a pool at Cobbs Creek Recreation Center while there with a summer camp.
According to the complaint, filed yesterday in Common Pleas Court, camp counselors from Traveler's Aid allowed Ja'briel to get into the pool without proper supervision or a flotation device, despite being told he could not swim.
Additionally, a witness told police that the lifeguards were not on their stand, were talking to one another and throwing each other into the pool at the time of the incident. The lifeguards also are accused of not immediately responding to cries for help.
About 30 campers and four counselors were in the water, with four lifeguards also on duty. Ja'briel, who was about 4 feet, 4 inches tall, was near the middle of the pool, which ranged from 3- to 5-feet deep.
When counselors noticed him at the bottom, he was placed on the deck and a lifeguard began administering CPR. He was rushed to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, but suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage before being taken off life support.
After the incident, city Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson insisted that the rec center "had the necessary procedures in place."
Ja'briel's mother, Aisha Watson, is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.