NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- A swimming
pool company president was charged Monday with second-degree manslaughter in
connection with the drowning of a 6-year-old boy whose arm was trapped by the
suction of a powerful drain pump.
Shoreline Pools President David Lionetti was released on $25,000 bail. If convicted of the felony, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Since 1985, more than 150 cases have been reported around the
country of swimming pool drain entrapments, leading to at least 48 deaths and
many serious injuries, including disembowelment, of children and adults,
according to a lawsuit filed by Zachary's parents.
Lionetti plans to plead not guilty, said his attorney, Richard Meehan Jr. "To my knowledge this is the first time an executive from a pool company has been prosecuted for homicide for claimed code violations in the installation of a pool," Meehan said.
Meehan declined to comment on the issue of safety devices,
saying he had not seen the arrest affidavit yet.
Prosecutor David Cohen said he believed there have been other
criminal prosecutions involving pool safety issues, but agreed the
prosecution was unusual. Asked if he expected anyone else to be charged, he
said, "Not at this point."
Police said Zachary Cohn drowned when his arm became stuck in an
intake valve in the deep end of the family's in-ground pool on July 26, 2007.
Water entering the intake valve is pumped through filters before being
returned to the pool.
The family's lawsuit, filed in January, alleged the pool
violated safety code requirements designed in response to the rash of similar
cases around the country.
"Nothing will bring our son back but we hope this
prosecution will help prevent another horrific incident like this from
happening to someone else," the parents said in a statement released by
their attorneys. "Those who knowingly violate pool safety codes designed
to protect children should be held accountable for their actions."
Lionetti's arrest came three days
after fire destroyed the company's
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