Groundbreaking case paves the way for families to seek justice in pool entrapment deaths
STAMFORD, Conn. April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Shoreline Pools, Inc. and its CEO, David Lionetti, entered guilty pleas at the Stamford Superior Court today in connection with the tragic drowning death of 6-year-old Zachary Archer Cohn on July 28, 2007 when he became entrapped by the force from the suction of the pool drain. Shoreline Pools plead guilty to Manslaughter in the Second Degree and Lionetti plead guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide.
The State of Connecticut sought criminal charges against Shoreline Pools and Lionetti after an investigation proved Zachary's death was caused by faulty drain equipment.
"Let these guilty pleas serve as a signal to the pool industry that safety will always be your number one priority, and essential changes to national regulations needs to be made so no other family has to endure the death of a child in this manner," said Ernie Teitell, attorney for the Cohn family.
"Pool drain entrapments are preventable when the proper equipment, safety devices, and building codes are utilized and enforced by local inspectors. In this case, David Lionetti and Shoreline Pools disregarded essential measures during the building process to keep the Cohn's pool safe for swimmers. There is no excuse for this behavior," Teitell continued.
With his plea, Lionetti agrees to a one-year suspended sentence with three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a public service project that requires him and Shoreline Pools to repair 100 area pools to comply with all legal requirements and building codes.
Shoreline Pools will pay $50,000 annually toward public service ads for water safety education, provide a complete list of addresses in the State of Connecticut where residential pools reside and pay mailing costs for a pool safety brochure, and staff two pool industry trade shows where they are required to distribute water safety information.
Public service activities required by the court to be performed by Lionetti and Shoreline Pools will benefit all citizens of Connecticut, especially those who own and/or operate public or private pools.
"Nearly four years have passed since Zachary's death, a tragedy that no parent should have to endure again," said Zachary's parents, Karen and Brian Cohn, after the pleas were entered. "This unspeakable loss has made us keenly aware of the dangers that still exist in private and public pools across the country – dangers of which parents and pool owners must be made aware."
The Cohn's continued, "Our mission now will be to raise awareness through education, and to advocate for water safety. We will share our message across the country with children, families, lawmakers and affiliated groups."
After Zachary's death, the Cohn's established The ZAC Foundation in his memory to advance water safety initiatives in Connecticut and across the country. It has developed two national educational campaigns -- a first grade curriculum that encourages water safety through spelling, reading, writing and mathematics; and ZAC Camps that teach 6 to 8-year-olds water safety with swimming lessons, a classroom curriculum and hands-on activities.
The ZAC Foundation will debut its programs at the first annual ZAC Camp on April 18-22 held in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greenwich and Stamford, Conn.; local police, firefighters and Emergency Medical Services; and the American Red Cross.
For media inquiries for Mr. Teitell or the Cohn family, please contact Danielle Hagen at 202.365.6112.
Contact: Danielle Hagen
SOURCE The ZAC Foundation