Thursday, September 14, 2000

Money offered in pool death

Covington tells family's lawyer to name figure

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A lawyer for the city has offered to discuss a possible monetary settlement with the family of the 6-year-old boy who drowned two weeks ago in a closed municipal swimming pool.

        The parents of Dylan Roberts have not sued the city over his drowning in Rosedale Pool. However, their attorney, Eric Deters, has not ruled out that possibility.

Dylan Roberts
Dylan Roberts
        The two sides are scheduled to meet Friday.

        In a Sept. 8 letter to Mr. Deters, attorney Stephen McMurtry said that the city of Covington “may be interested in an early settlement of (the) case.”

        Mr. McMurtry asked Mr. Deters to name a figure, if Dylan's family is interested in settling the case. He said the city is willing to discuss a possible settlement to avoid lengthy, expensive litigation.

        Neither side would mention a possible amount.

        “How do you value the life of a 6-year-old boy?” Mr. Deters asked. “What is human life worth if it's your son?”

        Covington Commissioner Butch Callery, who is running for mayor against former Mayor Bernie Moorman this fall, said that he has not been involved in any talks about a possible settlement. He added that City Solicitor Joe Condit has advised city commissioners not to talk about the Rosedale situation.

        The city's letter noted that Covington is making its offer with the understanding that it is protected under the Recreational Use Immunity Statute.

        Mr. McMurtry said the city successfully used that law in the 1980s when a youth was paralyzed in a diving accident at Randolph Pool.

        Even though Rosedale Pool was closed, Mr. McMurtry said that it was part of Rosedale Park, and was locked up every night, as all other city pools are.

        “The Recreational Use Immunity Statute only applies if they invite you in and you get hurt doing what they invite you in to do,” Mr. Deters said. “This is a locked up, closed swimming pool. Nobody was inviting Dylan in for a swim.”

        On the night of Aug. 30, Dylan and a playmate entered the pool through a hole in the fence. Dylan, who lived in the Rosedale Mobile Home Park, slipped in the pool while trying to catch frogs and drowned, Mr. Deters said. His body was recovered from 7 feet of murky water early the next morning.

        Last week, the city filled in Rosedale Pool with dirt and gravel, three years after it was closed because of flood damage.

        Mr. Deters said that “everything will be on the table,” when he meets with the city's lawyers, including possible discussion of fixing up Rosedale Park and naming it for Dylan. That suggestion was made in petitions signed by more than 750 people, as well as on a Web site in memory of Dylan that was created this week.

        “The family just wants to get this all behind them and get out of that trailer park,” Mr. Deters said. “Every day, they see that pool, and it's a reminder of what happened.”


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