Thursday, September 07, 2000

City filling deadly pool


Boy reached for a frog and slipped, lawyer says

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — City workers began filling in Rosedale Pool on Wednesday — one week after a young boy drowned there, and three years after residents began complaining that the closed, flood-damaged facility was a hazard.

[photo] Rock is dumped to begin filling the Rosedale Pool where 6-year-old Dylan Roberts drowned last week.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Criticism over the pool's condition and its maintenance mounted last Thursday, after divers pulled the body of 6-year-old Dylan Roberts from 7 feet of murky rainwater that had accumulated in the deep end of the Latonia pool.

        On the night Dylan died, he and a 6-year-old playmate crawled through a hole in the 8-foot fence surrounding the pool, said Eric Deters, the lawyer who is representing the boy's parents. He said Dylan reached to catch a frog, when he slipped and fell in the water.

        “I'm glad the city's finally doing something,” said Latonia resident Kathy Riddle, 43, who watched as public works crews began dumping fill dirt in the pool Wednesday morning. “But this should have been done a long time ago.”

        Her husband, Jim Riddle, 46, agreed.

        “It's just a shame it had to take that little boy's life to get the city on the move,” Mr. Riddle said.

        On Wednesday, a steady succession of dump trucks packed with fill dirt and large stones drove down Virginia Avenue, headed for the pool bordering Rosedale Mobile Home Park. Geoff Warneford, director of Covington's general services department, said that he expects the job to be finished on Friday.

[photo] Visitors look over a memorial to Dylan Roberts outside Rosedale Pool.
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        Covington City Commission authorized the work on Tuesday, after more than 750 residents petitioned them to fill in the pool, fix up Rosedale Park, and rename it for Dylan Roberts.

        Residents watching the work Wednesday complained that the city recently removed Rosedale Park's basketball courts, tennis courts and swings, leaving children in the neighborhood with no place to play. They also were concerned that a month after the equipment was removed, some of the poles, nets and fencing still lie in the park.

        Mr. Warneford said city workers recently removed play equipment from Rosedale Park because it did not meet federal Consumer Product Safety guidelines. He added other items were removed because Denny Bowman, director of Covington's recreation department, did not think they were getting enough use.

        “We haven't exactly figured out what we'll do with those items,” Mr. Warneford said Wednesday. “That's something we'll have to address after we get the pool filled.”

        Mr. Deters said Dylan's parents have not yet decided whether to sue the city.

        “It all boils down to one word: responsibility,” he said. “The city will decide whether there's litigation or not. They expressed sympathy Tuesday night, but they didn't say, "This is our fault.' If the city accepts fault for this, and authorizes their attorney to negotiate (a monetary settlement) with me on behalf of Dylan's family, there won't be any litigation.”
       



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