Family suing Kinston & Rocky Mount after near-drowning at water park

The family of a nine-year-old child who nearly drowned at a Kinston water park last summer is suing the park, along with the cities of Kinston and Rocky Mount.

Jaekwon Williams was at Lions Water Adventure last August 11th, as part of a summer camp put on by the Rocky Mount Parks & Recreation Department.

The child, who could not swim, was found on the bottom of the park's lap pool, according to a lawsuit filed in Edgecombe County where the child lives. Williams had no pulse and was resuscitated before being rushed to Vidant Medical Center where he was in a coma for at least a week, according to the family's attorney.

The lawsuit names the Woodmen Foundation, which owns the park, both Kinston and Rocky Mount parks departments, as well as several lifeguards and other city employees.

The litigation claims negligence in that employees didn't recognize an active drowning on the surface, nor did they see "a passive submersion for several minutes."

It says children were not supervised at the park, and that lifeguards were allowed to sit in "standard height deck chairs" instead of elevated stands or platforms.

The lawsuit also says the water park didn't have an identification system in place to easily spot non-swimmers at the facility.

Lawyers for the Williams family say the nine-year-old suffered possibly permanent injuries because of the accident.

A lawyer for Rocky Mount says the city does not comment on pending litigation, while we have not received a comment from Kinston yet.

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More than a week after a near-drowning at popular water park, a child remains in a coma at Vidant Medical Center.

Jaekwon Williams was injured last Monday at Lions Water Adventure in Kinston. The 9-year-old was visiting the water park as part of a summer camp put on by the Rocky Mount Parks & Recreation Department.

Tuesday, lawyers for the child's mother pleaded for answers as to what happened and what steps are being taken to prevent a re-occurrence.

The park is owned by the Woodman Foundation, and operated by the Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department.

Kinston police have been investigating the accident, but few details about what happened have been released to the news media.

At an afternoon news conference, Jasmine Williams' lawyer says the 9-year-old could not swim and was found unconscious at the bottom of a seven-foot deep lap pool. Tom Taft told reporters the child had no pulse, but was resuscitated before he was taken to Vidant.

Taft says medical experts are fearing he may have suffered irreparable brain damage.

Lawyers say they have requested surveillance video from the park, statements from recreation department officials, administrators and lifeguards. They say so far they have not gotten a response.

They are also asking for Kinston police records into the accident.

In a statement late Tuesday afternoon, Kinston said its attorneys have been working with the family to provide them the information.

Kinston Public Safety Director Bill Johnson said safety of all waterpark guests is paramount. "We are conducting our own investigation so that we may understand how this tragic accident occurred, including a review of all of our safety policies and procedures." said Johnson.

Rocky Mount released a similar statement. It says the city received the family's request on Monday and is gathering the necessary information.

Rocky Mount says the accident remains under investigation and will release a detailed statement when their investigation is complete.

Kinston Public Safety Statement

We continue to pray for the recovery of Jaekwon Williams. The safety of all waterpark guests is paramount.

We are conducting our own investigation so that we may understand how this tragic accident occurred, including a review of all of our safety policies and procedures.

We received the document requests from attorneys for the family and the City's attorneys have been working with them to provide the information they are seeking.

Bill Johnson
Kinston Department of Public Safety

City of Rocky Mount Statement

The City of Rocky Mount expresses heartfelt concern and hopes for a speedy recovery to the young man who was injured during a recent field trip to Lions Water Adventure Park in Kinston, N.C. We strive to provide a safe environment for our summer campers, and we aim for transparency in all situations.

Attorneys representing the child's family have requested detailed information regarding this accident in a letter received by the City of Rocky Mount on Monday, August 18, 2014. The City immediately began compiling the requested information, but we will need time to gather these materials and to consult with Parks and Recreation staff. We are confident in our ability to get this information to the attorneys in a timely manner.

The accident is still under investigation, and the City will have a detailed statement when that investigation is completed. We will not have any comments until the investigation has been completed.

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A popular water park reopened Wednesday after closing its gates when a child was injured there Monday.

Officials remain tight lipped, but we've obtained the 911 call asking for help.

Just after 1:20 Monday afternoon an emergency call was placed to Lenoir County 911.

You can hear the caller say, "This is Lions Water Adventure in Kinston. We have a 10-year-old black boy that's drowning."

The child was part of a Rocky Mount-based day camp that was visiting Lions Water Adventure on a field trip.

A Rocky Mount spokesperson said the boy was unconscious and rushed to Vidant Medical Center. As of Tuesday, the spokesperson said he was in serious condition.

The incident led officials to close the water park until Wednesday morning.

City emergency officials and water park officials aren't revealing the details surrounding the incident but said Wednesday was a busy day at the water park, with about 850 people stopping by.

In a statement Tuesday, Kinston Public Safety Director Bill Johnson said they're in contact with the child's family and are praying for his recovery.

We'll continue to ask for an update on the boy's condition.
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A local waterpark will reopen Wednesday morning after a young camper was injured there.

Rescue crews were called to Lions Water Adventure in Kinston around 1:25 p.m. Monday.

Kinston Public Safety Director Bill Johnson said Rocky Mount campers were visiting the park when one of them, a 9-year-old boy, had an accident.

According to sources, the boy nearly drowned at the park site. As a precaution, the waterpark temporarily closed its doors Tuesday.

The boy was rushed to Vidant Medical, a Rocky Mount spokesperson said, where he was listed in serious condition Tuesday.

According to staff, the waterpark will reopen 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Kinston police are continuing to investigate the accident.

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A child is in serious condition at Vidant Medical Center, a day after a near-drowning at a Kinston waterpark.

The 9-year-old Rocky Mount boy was found unconscious at Lions Water Adventure, with CPR being performed on the child before he was rushed to Vidant Medical Center Monday afternoon.

The boy was on a field trip from the Williford Summer Day Camp, which is run by Rocky Mount's Parks & Recreation Department.

A Rocky Mount spokeswoman says the 9-year-old remained in the hospital, and was in serious condition Tuesday afternoon.

The popular water park was closed Tuesday, while staff says the facility will reopen at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Kinston police continue to investigate the accident.

Public Safety Director Bill Johnson released a statement Tuesday afternoon. "The safety of everyone, particularly the kids, visiting the Woodmen Waterpark is our number one priority. We are very concerned for each child and we are in contact with this child's family to offer our support. All of us are praying for his recovery."

Police have not said how the boy was injured or released any of the circumstances of what happened.

The water park is owned by the adjacent Woodmen Community Center, but is operated by Kinston's Parks and Recreation Department.

This is at least the second near-drowning call this summer to the water park on West Vernon Avenue. On Memorial Day, rescue crews were called to the location when a child swallowed too much water.

Lions Water Adventure opened last summer.

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A popular water park has closed after a summer camper was injured and rushed to a Greenville hospital.

Rescue crews were called to the Lions Water Adventure in Kinston around 1:25 p.m.

Kinston Public Safety Director Bill Johnson says campers from Rocky Mount were visiting the park on West Vernon Avenue when a child had an accident. Johnson could not say what type of accident occurred, but sources tell WITN it was a near-drowning.

Johnson says the child was taken to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

The child was part of Rocky Mount's Williford Summer Day Camp.

Rocky Mount public affairs manager Tameka Kenan-Norman tells WITN News that the boy became unconscious and that CPR was performed.

Visitors were told to leave the park, and it is not known when the park would reopen.

The chief said there were quite a few lifeguards on duty at the time of the accident.