Mother of High School Swimmer Who Drowned Under Pool Cover Sues for $70 Million

The mother of a high school swimmer in Oregon who drowned pulling pool covers after practice in November 2019 has filed a $70 million lawsuit for negligence leading to wrongful death, NBC News reported on Tuesday.

Fourteen-year-old swimmer Nabila Maazouz — a freshman at Oregon Episcopal School, though she competed on the Liberty High School team — was found dead on Nov. 20, 2019 at Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center, after coaches instructed the team to roll out the ThermaGard pool covers from their storage racks, according to the lawsuit. Swimmers allegedly swam one cover across the pool, then swam under it to retrieve the second cover and pulled it across. But when they swam under the second cover to retrieve the third, Maazouz did not come back up, and the other swimmers finished covering the pool without noticing.

Once the pool was covered, the lights were turned off and the team vacated the outdoor facility, according to the lawsuit.

At around 9:20 p.m., after her daughter hadn’t come out of the facility for pickup, Nabila’s mother Patricia asked the coaches where she was. She was found dead in the deep end of the pool, under the covers, according to the lawsuit.

Patricia is suing the city of Hillsboro, the school district, and the city’s parks and recreation department for wrongful death and negligence. The lawsuit says that the covers did not allow the team to cover the pool without getting in the water, which was “unreasonably dangerous” and created a “dark and disorientating underwater environment” in the water.

The Maazouz family is seeking $70 million in damages. The manufacturer of the pool covers, Universal Filtration Inc., as well as the store that sold them, The Pool and Spa House, are also named as defendants.

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loyal
1 month ago

wow what an awful story.

DR3
1 month ago

Who designs a cover system where you have to go under water and under a cover to retreive multiple covers?! That’s just waiting for an accident imo. Condolences to the family..

exswimcoach
Reply to  DR3
1 month ago

I don’t think it was a design issue, kids being kids will
do things just because they can. My educated guess is that the kids thought it would be fun to swim under the one cover to get the other. My heartfelt condolences to the family involved.

jeff
Reply to  exswimcoach
1 month ago

thats what I’m thinking. I remember ending high school practice and having to put the pool cover on, sometimes you’d need another person at the other end, and instead of getting out and walking to the other side, we always just went underneath. Scary to think that this could’ve happened to us too- our coach (and I think most high school coaches?) usually went into the locker rooms shortly after practice ended while a bunch of us were still hanging out by the pool, so this totally could’ve occurred to us too.

Last edited 1 month ago by jeff
SwimmingDad/Official
Reply to  DR3
1 month ago

The covers are just plastic tarps. They are removed and placed on deck as the team trains. Once workout is done, swimmers usually grab an edge and start pulling the tarp across the pool. That’s where the problem occurred. It’s an horrific accident.

Coachy
Reply to  DR3
1 month ago

No one does. It’s just regular pool covers.

Jethro
1 month ago

I’ve never heard of an indoor pool being covered

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Jethro
1 month ago

And you still haven’t, at least not from this case:

Once the pool was covered, the lights were turned off and the team vacated the outdoor facility, according to the lawsuit.

(I have seen indoor pools covered.)

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Nolan
Jethro
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Missed that, saw Oregon and November assumed an indoor pool. Awful story, no amount of money will ease the parents pain.

coachymccoachface
Reply to  Jethro
1 month ago

Small indoor pools are covered all the time to prevent fogging and save on heating.

Swim coach
Reply to  Jethro
1 month ago

The indoor pool where I work is covered every night.

Mediocre Swammer
Reply to  Jethro
1 month ago

Our indoor high school pool had a cover, which wasn’t used often (to my knowledge), but at least one time I helped roll it out (pre-high school, after an age group practice). We, too, stupidly swam under it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mediocre Swammer
Dlf
1 month ago

Wow! How horrific! My condolences to the family. I can not understand how the team just left and didn’t know she didn’t surface. How do you do that! Just awful!!! Should never happen!

Coach Tom
Reply to  Dlf
1 month ago

This story really hits close to home and I felt sick to my stomach for all involved while reading it. But I will not cast judgment on the coaching staff. The thing that is so nightmarish about this story is that I could see it happening to the best and most caring of coaches. As a coach, you do your best to take an account of all the kids who are currently in the water at practice. When practice is over, you make sure not to leave until every child has been picked up by a parent or guardian. But what happens when you walk out to the parking lot and encounter a distressed parent whose child has not left… Read more »

Swimmom
Reply to  Coach Tom
1 month ago

I agree. Not a swim coach but have watched the pulling of the tarps many times. The end of practice is chaotic with kids going everywhere. That said, both my kids verified that they have never swam under a pulled tarp. That actually is a coaching issue (really a team issue) and should never happen. Sounds like it might be what this team does which is crazy. Absolutely heartbreaking story.

Daeleb Dressel
1 month ago

Unbelievably sad. Still can’t quite understand how this happened. Poor girl got trapped under the cover?

HoosierSwimTaxi
1 month ago

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time a high-school swimmer has drowned beneath a pool cover: https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/water-polo-player-dies-in-tragic-accident/ . Condolences to all the families of the deceased.

Xman
1 month ago

The lawsuit says that the covers did not allow the team to cover the pool without getting in the water, which was “unreasonably dangerous” and created a “dark and disorientating underwater environment” in the water.

This is going to get thrown out. The covers can easily be put in without being in the pool, and the second part is that they shouldnt have been swam under.

The coaches and the club team or school who runs this is at risk for being held reliable. Possibly whoever directs the pool.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

It is not the job of kids to put the covers on a County run pool . There ought to have been a lifeguard/ pool attendant who ensures the pool is empty of swimmers. & who then co ordinate the pool covers duty. Closing a facility safely is a routine practice by trained staff

Coachy
Reply to  Corn Pop
1 month ago

“It’s not the kids job”. Huh? You’re just making that up. You don’t know the contract and there’s no legal precedent that the county employees have to cover the pool instead of the users. You invented that entire narrative in your head. It doesn’t exist.

And guess what this will lead to? Shutting down of more pools BC they can’t afford the liability. Drowning will increase. Swim lessons cost will rise. Pool rental cost will rise.

Last edited 1 month ago by Coachy
Corn Pop
Reply to  Coachy
1 month ago

Exceot in Dec 2019, Shute Park changed policy to require a lifeguard at all such swim practices & that fully trained staff both put on & take off pool covers .

I hope you are not the defence team because you are going to anger the jury.( likely of elderly hippies).

Ps its in many news sites around the world.

Last edited 1 month ago by Corn Pop
Ryando Queso
Reply to  Corn Pop
1 month ago

That was after the accident in November…

Corn Pop
Reply to  Ryando Queso
1 month ago

A mistake or non observation can happen at pools but generally there is safety in numbers of aware people , be they swimmers, coaches ,staff or parents .

Not so at this school or this facility before this change was mandated .

SwimmingDad/Official
1 month ago

Although, is typical to see swimmers covering their training pool; in reality it should not happen. Pool operators should be the only ones doing that job, “NOT MINORS FREE LABOR”

Last edited 1 month ago by SwimmingDad/Official

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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