ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Civil attorneys said in court Wednesday that they hit a strange development while seeking answers in last July’s drowning at a St. Louis County summer camp.
The lawyers told a judge that the snag is delaying potentially-critical safety answers that could protect the next child.
Most of the answers we have, so far, about the drowning of 6-year-old T.J. Mister are because of an investigation by lifeguard company Starguard Elite.
Starguard’s report found the Kennedy Rec Center opened the pool that tragic day with only one lifeguard, even though the center’s policy requires two lifeguards.
The report also noted safety failures such as an AED missing child pads and a resuscitation mask that did not fit properly on T.J.’s face.
The report noted, “most breaths went out the side of the mask and did not cause the chest to rise and fall.”
T.J.’s mother and father, Olga and Travone Mister, filed a $40 million lawsuit, pushing St. Louis County to make changes that will protect other children. Their lawyers have filed repeated motions to get evidence they’ve told a judge is being withheld.
Attorney Todd Nissenholtz told a judge that the lifeguard company should have a trove of documents with answers. He believes the evidence would be in supporting documents to the company’s investigative report on the incident.
During Monday’s hearing, lawyers on both sides said they cannot reach the lifeguard company, even after getting return service on two subpoenas.
After the hearing, FOX 2 was able to reach Wess Long, Starguard’s president, by phone in Orlando, Florida. Long told us he was “alarmed by the court order” and said there may have been a mix-up because they have a new registered agent in St. Louis, which could explain why they did not know about the attempted contact from the court.
Long added that St. Louis County, “…uses our program to certify, but we don’t have any day-to-day or ongoing involvement. We provide best practices and tools, but we have nothing to do with the operation management.”
St. Louis County Judge Richard Stewart put a seven-day deadline on getting all of Starguard’s investigative materials. We provided the order to the lifeguard company, and Long told us, “They will comply.”