Family sues Maitland school after 3-year-old son nearly drowns

Swim teacher Jessica Kretz charged with child neglect

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

MAITLAND, Fla. - The family of a 3-year-old boy who nearly drowned at a swim camp last summer at Park Maitland School is suing the school for negligence.

Attorney Larry Gonzalez, with Morgan & Morgan, filed the civil lawsuit on behalf of the family in November.

Gonzalez claims the school was negligent and the swim instructors were not paying attention when the boy was struggling for two minutes in the pool on July 9, 2018.

"This is a small pool and they are not paying attention at all. Completely dropped the ball," Gonzalez said.

According to the Maitland police incident report, the pool is 21 feet wide and 34 feet long. It has a consistent depth of 3 feet, 8 inches.

 
News 6 obtained a copy of the surveillance video showing the pool area at the time of the near drowning.

The video shows the boy grabbing a floatation device, walking to the pool steps and getting into the water. He then gets on the floatation device and it slips out from underneath him, causing him to go under water.

The boy struggled and then went motionless. At one point, the video shows him gasp for air and then goes back underwater.

Gonzalez said swim instructor Jessica Kretz, 34, was in the middle of the pool at the time of the near drowning. He said there were also three other instructors in the water with the other children.

He claims the teachers came within feet of him multiple times, but they weren't paying attention to what was happening.

"This entire time the teachers who are supposed to be watching him are on the other side of the pool," he said.

The boy was struggling for two minutes before Kretz saw him and pulled him out of the water. She called on another teacher, who was on the other side of the pool, to come over and perform CPR while she called 911.

According to the Maitland police incident report, Kretz knew the boy couldn't swim.

In the civil lawsuit, Gonzalez claims the school was negligent. He adds the camp was supposed to teach the children how to swim, but the instructors didn't do their job.

"There's just a complete lack of supervision for two full minutes. They don't even glance back to check on him. It's shocking, really," he said.

Maitland police arrested Kretz on Tuesday and charged her with child neglect. She is the only instructor facing criminal charges. She has filed a not guilty plea, according to court documents.

Gonzalez said the boy is still suffering from health issues following the near drowning.

"He is continuing to see doctors. He has continued to seek care because he is still having significant issues, both cognitive, physical and mental issues to this day, and we're almost a year later," he said.

News 6 contacted the school's attorney, Dennis O'Connor. In an email, O'Connor provided News 6 a copy of the boy's medical record. He contends the child was diagnosed with "acute submersion injury" and not drowning. According to court documents, the school has denied any negligence in the civil matter.

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