Questions Arise after Boys Drown at Iowa Aquatics Center

PELLA, IA -- An Iowa aquatics center where two boys drowned last week is in the midst of a lawsuit in which the city claims a company improperly installed one of the pool’s underwater lights, which have been shut off for about four years.

The two boys, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, drowned at the Pella (IA) Aquatic Center last Wednesday night. The Haiti natives who were living in Kansas City, MO, had traveled to Iowa as part of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp. One of the boy’s families had relocated to Kansas City after the Haiti earthquake in January.

The boys and the rest of their group went to swim at the outdoor center after dusk. The parents of both boys signed a waiver indicating that the boys could not swim, according to several media reports. Both boys told camp counselors that they could swim. However, the waiver forms were not brought to the pool.

Lifeguards and adult supervisors were at the pool at the time of the drownings, according to The Des Moines Register.

Not long after the center opened in 2004, the center’s staff noticed that rust had developed on the underwater electrical conduits for the lights, and with the risk of electrical shock, the lights were shut off, according to the newspaper. The city of Pella sued Central Electric Co. of Pella in October 2006 after negotiations broke down, the newspaper reported. The lawsuit recently went to trial.

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