YMCA Sued After Child Drowns While Lifeguard Plays On Phone

A YMCA in Virginia is facing a $20 million lawsuit after a 5-year-old boy drowned in a busy pool while one lifeguard was reportedly distracted by her phone.

A recent lawsuit filed by the bereaved mother of young Auston Wingo, Jr. charged the Pulaski County YMCA with failing to adequately monitor the 38 children swimming on the day of her son’s death in 2021. The lawsuit claimed that only one lifeguard and three childcare workers were present.

In the lawsuit filed by Contessa Gallimore, it is said that the lifeguard started to look at what is believed to be her mobile phone while at least 34 program children were in the pool, including Wingo, who could not swim.

On December 6, 2021, the boy and the other children had been taken swimming as part of the Y Excel daycare program, as stated in the lawsuit. The boy desperately struggled in eight feet of water to reach the pool’s edge, drowning yards from the lifeguard perch without notice.

The court documents indicate that Wingo didn’t know how to swim, but no one questioned his parents, tested him, or offered him a flotation device.

The complaint argues that the three daycare staff were not adequately situated on the deck to watch all the youngsters.

While another worker assisted a youngster with goggles, one worker on the pool deck was not at her assigned position. The third employee ignored the deep end.

Even when two kids saw Wingo dangling underwater, nobody on staff did CPR to save him. There was a holdup in administering a defibrillator because the lifeguard didn’t know where it was.
When Wingo arrived at the hospital, doctors saw he had one water-filled lung. He died that night.

Reports show a special prosecutor found no criminal negligence or intention in the tragedy.

Steve Baker and Dirk Padgett, Wingo’s family attorneys, said they understand the importance of YMCAs in their communities, but someone must be held responsible.

The lawyers said that the boy would never live a complete life. Many YMCA staff have moved on, but Auston cannot. So, this case is the family’s attempt to get justice for their son’s death and responsibility.

Gallimore sued the YMCA, director, lifeguard, and childcare staff for gross negligence. Her lawsuit demands $15 million in compensation and $5 million in punitive damages.