Company papers reveal 13 accidents like Cary girl’s
THE NEW OBSERVER
December 11, 1996
Though few involved pool drain covers, the Wisconsin company evidently is no stranger to suction entrapment incidents.
By ANNE SAKER, Staff Writer
RALEIGH—Under pressure from lawyers for a Cary girl injured on an open swimming pool drain in 1993, the drain-cover maker revealed that it knew of at least 13 similar accidents nationwide—far more than it has previously acknowledged.
The girl’s lawyers immediately rewrote their claim against Sta-Rite Industries of Delavan, Wis. On Tuesday, they accused the company of "willful and wanton negligence," asking for punitive damages on top of the millions of dollars already demanded.
An hour later, David Lakey took the witness stand and spent five hours telling a Wake County Superior Court jury about the everyday heroics required to keep his daughter Valerie, 8, alive during the three years since she was hurt.
On June 24, 1993, Valerie was playing with a friend in the wading pool of the Medfield Area Recreation Club. Somehow, a plastic cover that breaks up the powerful vortex m the pool drain had been removed, and Valerie sat right on top of the open drain.
The suction pulled out most of her intestines, and she was dying when she got to Wake Medical Center. She survived, thanks to several operations to sew together what little bowel she has.
The child now gets almost all nutrition intravenously and takes medications to correct liver problems. A fever of 100 degrees means immediate admission to the hospital. Still, Valerie is in public school, and this summer, she joined the Medfield swim team.