One lawsuit in electric shock drowning case settled
One of two lawsuits filed in June 2013 against the owner of the German Creek Resort LLC following the electrocutions of two young boys in July 2012 has been settled.
On July 4, 2012, Noah Winstead, 10, and his friend 11-year-old Nate Lynam, were swimming near the boat dock at the marina when they were shocked by an electrical current.
The current also struck eight others who were either swimming with the boys or tried to help. Winstead was pronounced dead at the scene and Lynam died the following day. Following an investigation the marina was found to have numerous electrical faults, which had to be addressed.
On June 28, 2013, the lawsuits, naming the owner of the dock as James Figuerado, of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., and German Creek Resort LLC were filed in Grainger County Circuit Court. One lawsuit was filed by Winstead’s family and the other by Lynam’s family.
Braxton Terry, who handled the Winstead family’s lawsuit, said they were prohibited by the agreement from discussing the terms and conditions agreed upon.
“While this case cannot undo the tragedy that occurred, it will help prevent another tragedy from occurring at another marina,” Terry said. “We hope that it serves notice on marinas and boat owners that safety is of paramount importance.”
Terry added that the Winstead family had an overriding purpose in bringing this case.
“That purpose was to prevent this type of incident from happening again,” Terry said. “Jessica and Todd Winstead have been instrumental in education about Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) and in working with local lawmakers toward litigation that is being proposed to promote boat owner and marina safety. We believe their purposes are being served through their efforts.”
The Lynam’s family lawsuit, which asked for a sum of no less than $3 million, also states that minor Kenzie Lynam, Nate’s sister, received a “severe electrical shock.”
“She too suffered the initial stages of drowning, although, was saved and hospitalized,” the suit states.
The lawsuit states that Kenzie Lynam has had to undergo therapy treatment since the incident and that she continues to suffer with “severe visual, emotional and physical trauma.”
Nate Lynam’s brother, Ross Lynam, is also mentioned, as “trying to pull his brother out. He too suffered a severe electrical shock and has been in therapy since July 2012,” according to the suit.
Both lawsuits claim the marina failed to install GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) devices on the pedestals of the houseboats’ docking locations, these devices would “prevent the accidental electric shock to individuals who might be in the water.”
Both suits also claim that electric shock in and around boat docks is a widely known risk to marina owners and operators, however, the risk is largely unknown to the public at large.
Following the incident, the marina was shut down while all the wiring was replaced on the docks and GFCI devices were installed.
Electric Shock Drowning, or ESD, is fairly common. In the water, it only takes 50-100 milliamps to be fatal, according to officials. A 9-volt battery is 500 milliamps. When a human body passes through an AC current in fresh water, it completes the circuit to the ground. There is no need to touch metal or another conductive source.
Water safety experts state that no one should go in to the water at marinas.
- By Aletheia Davidson, Tribune Staff Writer