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Case study: Three-year-old Rocco Wright drowns following failures at David Lloyd Club

Ramsdens Solicitors were instructed by the family of three-year-old Rocco Wright, who tragically passed away on 21st April 2018 at the David Lloyd swimming pool in Leeds.

Rocco, a happy and joyful three-year-old, was with his father Steven Wright and four-year-old sister for her regular Saturday morning swimming lesson before accidentally falling into the water and drowning.

One lifeguard on duty

There was only one 17-year-old lifeguard on duty, who had counted 38 people in the pool area at the time of the incident and did not notice Rocco until Mr Wright dived into the pool and screamed for help.

Tragically, Rocco was declared dead in hospital the following day.

The Wright family believe Rocco’s death could and should have been prevented, having serious concerns about the levels of health and safety at the swimming pool on the day he died.

Natalie Marrison, Partner at Ramsdens Solicitors, was instructed to represent the Wright family at the Pre-Inquest Review in July 2019 and the seven-day jury inquest hearing into Rocco’s death at Wakefield Coroner’s Court in February 2020, which returned a conclusion of accidental death.

Lifeguard numbers deliberately reduced

The jury heard that lifeguard numbers had been reduced by David Lloyd Leisure in line with budget cuts. This was despite concerns raised by a number of lifeguards about supervising the pool alone during busy periods and having to undertake additional tasks such as pool-tests and cleaning when on duty.

Rocco was submerged underwater for in excess of two minutes, and it was not until his father identified him that he was noticed by the lifeguard. It was heard that the positioning of the lifeguard’s chair meant there was limited visibility of the bottom of the pool where Rocco was found, and that an additional lifeguard on duty would have ensured full visibility of the pool.

David Lloyd Leisure is now set to be prosecuted by Leeds City Council over offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Natalie Marrison commented:

“Catharine and Steve Wright approached Ramsdens due to inaccuracies reported in the press in the immediate aftermath of their son Rocco’s passing. The leisure club, David Lloyd in Leeds, had quoted that they had jumped in and attempted to rescue Rocco.

“It was, in fact, Steve who saw him and who jumped in to pull him from the water. The family were in extreme shock in the initial few months. They asked that I represent them at the Inquest which was listed nearly two years later and in all enquiries up to and beyond that time.

“It was a challenge to obtain the relevant documentation from David Lloyd to ensure all matters were investigated, but in the months leading up to the Inquest these were obtained from the Coroners Court.

“The documents were reviewed in detail by myself and the family and I raised questions at Inquest for further clarification of all witnesses.

“An Inquest is always extremely difficult for those bereaved and, as an advocate representing families, I travel the journey with them.

“The announcement from the Health and Safety Authority at Leeds City Council of their intention to prosecute when the Inquest concluded was welcomed by the family and myself.

“I hope that lessons are learnt so that Health and Safety within Swimming Pools becomes a top priority in private clubs.“

Our thoughts remain with Rocco’s family throughout this very difficult time.