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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:13 AM
Original message
Pool Arrest Highlights Drain Dangers
Source: ABC News

Safety experts say yesterday's arrest of a pool contractor in Connecticut could pressure many pool owners and operators to make their pools safer. Of particular concern are dangerous pool drain covers which can cause a powerful suction effect and have caused hundreds of injuries and over 30 drownings of children since the 1980s. Dangerous pool drains are the subject of an ongoing ABC News investigation which will air Wednesday on "Good Morning America."

"This is the first time a swimming pool contractor has been arrested in the United States for violating the building and safety codes concerning swimming pools. As a result of this arrest we are anticipating that many pools will now be made safe and compliant," Paul Pennington, spokesman for the Pool Safety Consortium, told ABC News.

David Lionetti was arrested yesterday on a manslaughter charge in the death of Zachary Cohn. Six-year-old Cohn drowned last summer after becoming trapped by the suction of a drain in his family's pool in Greenwich, Conn. The pool had been installed by Lionetti's company Shoreline Pools.


Lionetti voluntarily surrendered yesterday to the Greenwich Police Department and was released on $25,000 bail pending a court appearance on July 28. In issuing the warrant for Lionetti's arrest, law enforcement officials state that he failed to have his company install mandated safety devices in the Cohn family pool. As a result Zachary Cohn was able to remove the cover and was caught in the suction power of the drain. His parents were unable to free him before he drowned.


The concern over dangerous drains lead to the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act signed into law by President Bush in December of 2007. The act specifies that all swimming pool and spa drain covers available for purchase in the United States be compliant with new drains which will prevent or lessen the chances of entrapment.

Read more:

BTW, Virginia Graeme Baker who was killed by entrapment in a pool drain was the granddaughter of James Baker who we all know as Bush consigliore. James Baker did lobby for this law.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:17 AM
Response to Original message
1. Damn trial lawyers!
Trying to ruin everybody's fun, and what's more fun than watching your buddy drown? Or seeing your kid get her intestines sucked right out of her abdomen? John Edwards made a lot of money on a case just like that, so we know it must be wrong. The terrorists are winning if we don't let pool contractors make a killing while killing the living!


Posted as a public service by your friendly neighborhood gratuitous, because batshit crazy wingnuts can't always be on hand.
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superconnected Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #1
16. You NAILED what repukes told me on inet durning the 2004 election!
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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
2. What I'd like to know is... where are all the adults when these kids are drowning?
Edited on Tue Jul-22-08 09:32 AM by notadmblnd
or havng their guts sucked out of them? How are 6 year olds left unattended in pools, giving them opportunity to drown? The rule at my house is no one goes swimming by them selves, including adults. I also have the option of shutting the bottom drain completely off and just running the skimmer.
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Bob Dobbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. When irresponsibly killer pool drains are outlawed
Only outlaws will have irresponsibly killer drains.

Irresponsibly killer drains don't kill kids, irresponsible parents do.

It's always the victim's fault, right?
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SouthernVoter Donating Member (30 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:42 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Doesn't take that long to either get your guts sucked out or drown
Child plays at the bottom of the pool and sits down wrong.

Panics takes a lung full of water.

I think these have also happened at pools with LifeGuards. So it can happen quickly.
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Marrah_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. These particular parents were frantically trying to free him from the drain.
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lligrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. Um, In Both Cases The Parents Were Right There
Apparently, the kids become stuck in the drain. Parents have very little time to free them. What I don't understand is why people are so quick to assign blame without even knowing the facts.
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emmadoggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:51 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. While I would agree that some parents don't supervise closely enough,
the article states that the six-year-old boys parents tried to free him but were unable to because of the powerful suction. I have heard many stories where this is the case. The suction is so strong that the child can't be freed in time.

Makes me think that there should be some sort of quickly and easily accessible shut off switch and/or there should be some sort of safety mechanism that turns it off automatically when there is an obstruction (in addition to the mandated safety drains). Though I admit, I don't know much about how these things work.

What a horrifying thing to have happen. My own kids are 6 years old and I can't imagine the horror and panic of something like this happening.
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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. there is on my pool. The switch that shuts off the pump is 10 feet from my pool
Underneath the pool there is another shutoff valve that shuts off the bottom drain.
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emmadoggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 10:40 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. So in other words,
in most cases the first thing someone should do is run and immediately shut off the pump.

I imagine in the panic, many people forget this. So sad.
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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. Knowing the mechanics of the pool could prevent these kinds of tragedies
Edited on Tue Jul-22-08 01:01 PM by notadmblnd
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CRF450 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. Exactly right!!
I clean pools and hot tubs at the Outerbanks NC, as far as I know, I dont know of any certain distance the cutoff switch has to be near the pool by NC laws. But I can certainly tell most of the people renting the cottages I go to are oblivious about swimming pool mechanics, much less keeping the water where it should be at the skimmer. Whats worse is finding hot tubs with brown grose ass water from people wearing sunblock. I love the stuff, but it is my enemy when it comes to this job lol.
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izquierdista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. Not up to (the new) code
The new pool codes require that there be more than one water path to the pump (i.e. not a single drain at the bottom) just because of the danger of powerful suction from only one drain. The problem here is that to comply with the new code during construction costs less than a hundred dollars, while retrofitting a pool with only one bottom drain is going to cost a few thousand dollars.
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 06:03 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. the code in illinois requires a cut-off switch within 6 ft. of a hot tub/spa.
Edited on Tue Jul-22-08 06:08 PM by QuestionAll
but it also cannot be reachable while in the tub.

we're in the process of putting in one of these monsters:

6 ft. deep, 7 ft. diameter.

and that was the info the electrician gave me.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #2
10. It can happen very quickly with the parent right there
Edited on Tue Jul-22-08 10:54 AM by RamboLiberal
And they can't pull the child free until the suction is turned off. I suggest you read the section on the Valerie Lakey trial vs. Sta-Rite from John Edwards book "Four Trials".

Valerie's accident happened early on a June evening in 1993 at a public pool in Raleigh. Her father, David, was nearby when Valerie and a playmate went to the wading pool while the lifeguards cleared the main pool.

The plastic drain cover in the wading pool was easily popped off, and the two children put their hands over the drain. Valerie sat on it, and she was soon stuck. Her father, frantic, could not pry her loose. When the pump was finally shut off, she had lost about 80% of her intestines.

Valerie's life was saved by skilled doctors, but she faced a difficult future. She was hooked up to feeding tubes 12 hours a day. After several weeks, her parents, David and Sandy, decided they would need to sue in hopes of winning enough to pay for her medical care, which at the time included the prospect of a kidney or liver transplant. The pool, the county and the pump company agreed to settle for the maximum their insurance policies would pay, nearly $5 million.

However, Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin-based maker of the plastic drain cover, refused to settle. Its lawyers argued that the cover had been improperly installed because it was supposed to be secured with screws through two holes. That was the fault of the pool operators, not the manufacturer, they contended.

From Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's(D) speech on Baker's granddaughter's death:

Two and a half years ago, on a hot June day, 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker, granddaughter of former Secretary of State, James Baker went with her mother, Nancy, and four sisters to a family friends home for a graduation party.

Graeme, as she was affectionately known, had worn her swimsuit to the party and jumped in the pool as soon as they arrived.

Shortly after, Graemes older sister ran up to Nancy and told her that Graeme was underwater in the hot tub and would not come up. Nancy raced to the spa, but could not find Graeme in the hot tubs dark water and thick bubbles.

What she did next is what I know any mother would do. Nancy jumped into the hot tub to save her child.

Sadly, she found her daughter lying unconscious on the bottom of the spa. She threw her arms down into the water to pull Graeme up, but could not wrench her from the bottom.

As she desperately yanked, two men jumped in and grabbed Graemes ankles, they had to pull so hard to release Graeme that they broke the drain cover.

Emergency units arrived immediately and performed CPR, but Graeme could not be revived. She was flown to Fairfax Hospital in Virginia , but it was too late. Graeme was pronounced dead.

It wasnt until the police report came out, that Nancy discovered what happened: Graemes hip or buttock had become suctioned to the hot tubs drain.

Graeme Baker, a child of one of the most prominent families in America , was the victim of suction entrapment.

As with most pool and hot tub drownings, the fact that her death was entirely preventable makes the loss that much more tragic and infuriating.

Despite the enormity of this tragedy, Nancy Baker overcame it! She committed herself to ensuring that this never happens to another child and embarked on a crusade to improve pool safety.

Nancy shared Graemes story across America and testified before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on the need for improved safety measures in pools and hot tubs.

Nancy is here with us today and Id like to recognize her for her great courage and tremendous resilience.

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SharonAnn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #2
20. Did you read the part about the parents being unable to free the child?
In several of these accidents that I've read about, the parents were there with the child and tried to free the child. The suction was so strong that they couldn't free the child in time.

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Trillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 11:02 AM
Response to Original message
11. I thought the purpose of having a contractor was so the building codes
were followed. I thought the purpose of construction inspections were to insure that contractors did their jobs. I also have heard that contractors often learn of the laws applicable through the building inspectors inspection processes.

Who was responsible for inspecting this contractor's work?

As an aside, a few years ago I was looking for the building codes in our area, and found that "local codes" are not available online, one must go to a particular type of library in order to read them for free. All public libraries do not have them. With the cost of gasoline, it could be rather expensive to travel to this subset of libraries. Many if not all of our State and National laws are available online, why not local building codes?

I imagine if one is a contractor, one would want a copy of all those building codes, and every revision to the building codes as they occur. Did the government forward copies of the building code to him or her? Can the government prove this?

Shouldn't the general public also have easy and free access to all laws?

Waxing sarcastic, how would the prison industrial complex ever make all its money if all laws were divulged in clear, easy to understand High-School-level language.
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izquierdista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Codes are a mixed bag for contractors
The honorable ones use them and follow them and the disreputable ones try to evade them to cut costs to put more money in their own pocket. To paraphrase Tip O'Neill, all building codes are local, because a lot of politics is present in the code a locality adopts. Nevada is way ahead in the Southern Nevada Pool Code because of all the swimming pools in Las Vegas, but they are horribly backwards in other areas (like reuse of grey water). To make things worse, a contractor may do business in an area with differing jurisdictions, where one has adopted one code and another jurisdiction another. So uniformity may sound like a nice ideal in building, but the practicalities rule it out.

To answer your question, many modern, large, busy building and planning departments (like Las Vegas) do have extensive online libraries of applicable building codes. Other departments are like the Maytag repairman and might have some money in next year's budget to buy a computer so that they can get the Internets.
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RantinRavin Donating Member (423 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 06:15 PM
Response to Reply #11
17. On of the responsibilities of being a contractor
is knowing and following the building codes. In order to renew licenses a contractor must undergo certain numbers of hours of continuing education.
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Trillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-22-08 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. So, they don't read the actual law, but some derivative thereof.
Maybe the guy is a rip-off contractor. Hard to say, but I'm guessing there'll be a trial, and we'll learn more.

It still doesn't excuse the building department from either their lack of inspections, or faulty inspections. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, it seems some building departments seem to be in the inspection biz solely for the permit revenue, nothing more. Greed. Same ole story.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
21. 'She Died in My Arms': A Mother's Mission for Safe Pools
Despite a new federal law that takes effect later this year, an ABC News undercover investigation found many hotels and public pools across the country have yet to install safety drain covers and shut-off valves designed to prevent children from being trapped underwater by the powerful suction of pool filter systems.

Many of the drain covers inspected by ABC News in pools across the country are "death traps," according to Paul Pennington, spokesman for the Pool Safety Consortium, an industry group, and president of a company that manufactures anti-entrapment systems.

In December 2007, Congress passed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act to provide basic safety standards for the nation's public pools. However, ABC News found that the drains of nearly three-quarters of sampled public pools throughout the country are still not safe. The new legislation requires all public pools to install the devices by December 20 or face fines up to $1.3 million.

The new law is named after Virginia Graeme Baker, the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, and was pushed through Congress after her death in 2002.

The 7-year old girl died in the arms of her mother, after sitting on the underwater floor drain of a hot tub connected to a friend's pool.


Baker told ABC News it took all the political clout of her distinguished father-in-law and five years of lobbying effort to overcome pool industry resistance to a law requiring dome-shaped drain covers and pump valve releases. The dome shape prevents a child's body from creating a kind of vacuum seal.
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