Case Synopsis: A middle aged woman died/drown immediately after descending a large, high speed water slide. She began having difficulties upon impact with the water after being discharged at the bottom of the water slide.
Case Analysis: This case has several unusual circumstances. Because the woman weighed over 400 pounds, and the slide had a weight limitation of 250 lbs, she should not have been on the slide. This rule was clearly posted and there were lifeguards on duty. Additionally, the woman suffered from a heart ailment that would have also precluded her from using the slide. As expected, the coroner ruled drowning because water was evidenced in her lungs.
One of the difficulties in this case, like so many other cases involving water, was determining if the woman died first, with water then entering her lungs, or did she actually drown first? Defense claimed that the blunt force trauma of a large person hitting the water would have killed her in light of her heart problems. Defense also stated that it was extremely awkward and difficult for teenage lifeguards to prevent large adults from using the slides. Plaintiff charged that lifeguards should have prevented her from accessing the water slide and once she became distressed, lifeguards should have successfully resuscitated her.
In reality, this situation was very difficult for lifeguards to handle, both in preventing her from using the slide and then providing her life-support in the water. In a case such as this, no one really wins. After much finger-pointing, modest settlements are typically negotiated.
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