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Teen Who Drowned in Swim Class Spent 17 Minutes Underwater, Report Says


Malvrick Donkor, 14, a high school student, was fatally injured in a swimming pool accident during a lesson. According to a news report in The Gothamist, the teenager was allegedly underwater and unnoticed by instructors for 17 minutes while other students swam around him. Surveillance tapes showed Donkor climbing down a ladder into the deep end and then sinking. He was not noticed until another student spotted his body underwater and told the teacher, who pulled him out. The male swim teacher has since been placed on administrative leave and the pool has been closed. The incident is under investigation.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Malvrick Donkor for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Donkor was reportedly an immigrant from Ghana. His loved ones will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

Swimming Pool Accidents

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for every child under 15 years old who dies from drowning in a pool, another 10 receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Even when a swimming pool injury is nonfatal, it can cause brain damage and lead to long-term disabilities including memory issues, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functions.

Ongoing Investigation

Based on the news account, it appears that the teenager in this case was attending a swim lesson. There are several questions that remain here. Why did the swim instructor fail to notice Donkor get into the pool? Why did he fail to keep track of his students? The report states the teen quietly slipped underwater and those other students were swimming over him. What are the school’s policies with regard to student safety and supervision? I trust these and other questions will be answered during the investigation.

Liability Issues

In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages including medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of love and companionship. If the swim instructor is determined to have been at fault here, he and his employer can be held liable for the student’s wrongful death. An experienced personal injury attorney who has successfully handled swimming pool accident cases will be able to better advise victims’ families regarding their legal rights and options.

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