Plea deal in drowning case at murky Massachusetts pool

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 07, 2012 6:43 PM
Plea deal in drowning case at murky Massachusetts pool

By Zach Howard

(Reuters) - Two former Massachusetts recreation officials admitted in a plea deal on Tuesday that they allowed swimmers to frolic in a murky pool where a drowned woman's submerged body lay unnoticed for two days, court officials said.

While not charged directly in the woman's drowning, the two men admitted to reckless endangerment of a child for opening the state-run pool in Fall River, Massachusetts to the public even though its cloudy water conditions were unsafe.

A judge ordered one year of unsupervised probation for Brian Shanahan, former Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation regional director, and Jeff Carter, former district manager, following the guilty pleas.

Their criminal charges stem from their actions in the two days after the drowning of Marie Joseph, 36, who disappeared after going down a slide on July 26 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Swimming Pool in Fall River, about 50 miles south of Boston.

Even though the pool was open to visitors as usual for the following two days, her body remained in the water undetected until late on June 28, when several passersby spotted it and alerted police.

After an investigation into the drowning, officials said poor water clarity, in part, prevented lifeguards from being alerted to the drowning and detecting Joseph on the bottom of the pool after she submerged.

Last July, Massachusetts DCR officials fired several managers and ordered statewide policy changes that require improved water clarity and more inspections as a result of Joseph's drowning.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Paul Thomasch)