Three years after Eddie Gayyean, a 17-year-old, drowned in his high school’s pool, his family is suing the city of Lowell, Mass., for wrongful death.
In the lawsuit, Gayyean’s parents allege the school was negligent in its maintenance of pool property and failed to restrict and control access to the pool. They also allege that the school should have been aware that people were able to get into the pool and that unauthorized after-hours use “presented an unreasonable risk” to students.
The family is seeking $100,000 for pain and suffering as a result of Guyyean’s drowning.
According to his parents, on the day of the incident, Gayyean was at the school to hand in paperwork for his classes. Cameras at the school show Guyyean attempt to access into the pool several ways. He eventually succeeded by cutting through the girls’ locker room, which has a door that connects to the pool.
A swim club instructor found his body at 5:30 that afternoon at the bottom of the pool. An autopsy conducted at the time found that the cause of Gayyean’s death was accidental drowning, and according to his family, Gayyean didn’t know how to swim.
In the lawsuit, the family alleges, “Such actions reasonably show that the plaintiff had knowledge of how to enter the pool area, or at least attempt to enter the pool area through passages likely to be unlocked or unsecured.”
Following Guyyean’s death, a state environmental health inspector found 32 violations at the pool, but it was unclear whether these violations contributed to his drowning. Two of the violations included a failure to test the pool chemistry four times per day -- which might have led to earlier discovery of the body -- as well as a rusted jamb on an unspecified door.
In a separate investigation, a state trooper found that several doors in the school were propped open due to renovations or maintenance work that was taking place at the school over the summer. It was also found that exterior doors were left open even though classes were not in session.