Mother of school swimmer who drowned when pool was accidentally covered sues for $70M

Lawsuit stock photo.
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High School swimmers in Oregon were working to put a covering on a pool two years ago this November. One of them never came up again, claims a $70 million lawsuit filed last Tuesday.

According to the suit – filed by Patricia Maazouz in Multnomah County Circuit Court – her 14-year-old daughter Nabila Maazouz was instructed by coaches along with other swimmers to swim underwater in order to secure heavy ThermGuard pool covers over a large outdoor pool in Hillsboro, Ore., on Nov. 20, 2019.

Nabila, a freshman at Oregon Episcopal School and a member of the Liberty High School swim team, had just finished practice. She helped to secure two covers but never resurfaced after a third was put on the pool, said NBC News.

“The other swimmers continued to cover the pool, without noticing Nabila Maazouz's disappearance,” said the lawsuit. “Once the pool was completely covered, the swimmers and coaches left the outdoor pool and the lights were turned off.”

Her mother waited in a parking lot, but the teen never came out.

By 9:20 p.m., less than an hour after the team was allegedly instructed to cover the pool, Patricia went inside and asked the swim coaches where her daughter was.

Nabila was found dead underneath the covers in the deep end of the pool at the Shute Park Aquatic and Recreation Center, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to the school district, Patricia’s suit was filed against the Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Department and the city itself for wrongful death and negligence. She says the pool covers were “unreasonably dangerous” because they did not allow the team to cover the pool without getting in the water created a “dark and disorientating underwater environment” for the swimmers.

Patricia blames the district for failing to keep a roster of the swimmers who entered and exited the pool and not realizing her daughter had perished under the covers.

The school district declined to comment on the pending litigation, said NBC. However, it said Nabila's death is a “tragedy that we are all still grieving.”

“Our hearts and thoughts continue to go out to her family and all who knew her,” spokesperson Beth Graser said Tuesday in a statement.

The city said it has referred the lawsuit to its attorneys for the next steps in the legal process.

“Our hearts remain with the Maazouz family and everyone in our community who has been devastated by the tragic death of Nabila,” city spokesperson Patrick Preston said in a statement. “The City of Hillsboro is committed to caring for the safety and well-being of all community members at all City facilities. Because this is pending litigation, we will not be issuing additional comments.”

The Parks and Recreation Department, which owns the aquatic center, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, said NBC News.

However, it changed some of its rules following Nabila’s death. Now, only staff members will be allowed to cover and uncover the pool and a lifeguard will be on duty for any practices, according to The Associated Press.