Pool Arrest Highlights Drain Dangers

A dangerous suction effect can be caused by unsafe drain covers.

ByABC News
July 21, 2008, 5:56 PM

July 22, 2008— -- Safety experts say yesterday's arrest of a pool contractor in Connecticut could pressure many pool owners and operators to make their pools safer. Of particular concern are dangerous pool drain covers which can cause a powerful suction effect and have caused hundreds of injuries and over 30 drownings of children since the 1980s. Dangerous pool drains are the subject of an ongoing ABC News investigation which will air Wednesday on "Good Morning America."

"This is the first time a swimming pool contractor has been arrested in the United States for violating the building and safety codes concerning swimming pools. As a result of this arrest we are anticipating that many pools will now be made safe and compliant," Paul Pennington, spokesman for the Pool Safety Consortium, told ABC News.

David Lionetti was arrested yesterday on a manslaughter charge in the death of Zachary Cohn. Six-year-old Cohn drowned last summer after becoming trapped by the suction of a drain in his family's pool in Greenwich, Conn. The pool had been installed by Lionetti's company Shoreline Pools.

Parents Brian and Karen Cohn filed a civil suit against Lionetti in January claiming Shoreline Pools should have known of the dangers of a potentially fatal entrapment from an uncovered suction drain.

"Nothing will bring our son back, but we hope this prosecution will help prevent another horrific incident like this from happening to someone else," said a statement by the Cohns released by their attorney. "Those who knowingly violate pool safety codes designed to protect children should be held accountable for their actions."

Lionetti voluntarily surrendered yesterday to the Greenwich Police Department and was released on $25,000 bail pending a court appearance on July 28. In issuing the warrant for Lionetti's arrest, law enforcement officials state that he failed to have his company install mandated safety devices in the Cohn family pool. As a result Zachary Cohn was able to remove the cover and was caught in the suction power of the drain. His parents were unable to free him before he drowned.