Family files lawsuit against Jasper for 5-year-old girl’s drowning

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JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) – The family of a 5-year-old girl who drowned at a Jasper pool earlier this summer has filed a lawsuit against the city, citing negligence in her death.

Emily Dykes, mother of 5-year-old Faithlynn Blankenship, filed a lawsuit Thursday in Walker County Circuit Clerk through her attorneys, Matt Glover and Coe Baxter, citing negligence on the part of the lifeguards at Memorial Park Natatorium. In the suit, Dykes demanded a jury trial seeking damages against the city for Blankenship’s death.

On July 6, Blankenship was taken to Jasper Hospital after drowning at the pool. The girl was pronounced dead by the Walker County Coroner at 3:40 p.m. that day.

In the lawsuit, Dykes and her legal team claimed that a number of lifeguards were not paying attention to Blankenship at the time she was drowning. The suit lists the lifeguards as “Fictitious Party Individuals 6-10” due their identities being unknown as of Friday. “Fictitious Party Individuals 1-5” were the people the lawsuit claims employed and trained the lifeguards.

“According to surveillance video, Fictitious Party Individual Defendants 6-10 breached their individual duties,” the suit states. “The individual defendants can be seen leaving their post, not paying attention to those swimming, ignoring Faithlynn Blankenship in distress, not rescuing her, and failing to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation.”

The suit states that Blankenship, whose family lives in Empire, was under water for over five minutes and that the lifeguard closest to her had abandoned his post. The suit added that the girl had sunk to the bottom of the pool before a patron pulled her out. The suit claims that even in that time, the lifeguards never entered the pool or applied any life-saving measures to Blankenship.

In the suit, the city of Jasper is listed as a defendant. Glover and Baxter argued that the city owed it to the patrons of Memorial Park Natatorium to keep everyone safe while they were swimming, as well as hire and train “competent employees” to serve as lifeguards.

“Defendant City of Jasper breached these duties,” the suit stated. “As a direct and proximate result, Faithlynn Blankenship died.”

As of Friday, there had been no response filed by the city in the case.


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