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
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.