Lifeguard was texting while man was drowning, suit claims

Kelly Holleran May 5, 2010, 3:56am

The administrator of a deceased man's estate claims the man died while swimming at a crowded Madison County lake after a lifeguard, who was allegedly talking and texting on her cell phone at the time of the incident, failed to provide him with adequate assistance.

Lashonda Jenkins, special administrator of the estate of Willie Batee, filed a lawsuit April 23 in Madison County Circuit Court against Holishor Association.

Jenkins claims the 45-year-old Batee visited Holiday Shores on July 25 with his family and decided to enjoy a swim in the designated beach area named the Holiday Shores Club House Beach located in Edwardsville.

On the day that Jenkins and his family visited the beach, a number of other guests had also decided to swim in the same area. Because of the significant number of guests, Holishor should have had two lifeguards on duty, but instead only provided one, according to the complaint.

"That the decedent, Willie Batee, was swimming in the lake when he began coughing and needed assistance," the suit states. "At that time, friends and witnesses yelled and requested assistance but the lifeguard did not respond in a timely manner. The lifeguard had been on her cell phone throughout the day and was using her cell phone for talking or texting before and/or at the time the incident occurred."

As a result of the lifeguard's inattention, Batee's deceased body was not discovered for more than one hour, the complaint says.

Because of Batee's death, Jenkins claims she lost his society and relationship and incurred funeral and burial expenses.

She blames Holishor, through its lifeguard, for causing Batee's death because it negligently failed to administer appropriate rescue skills, failed to provide adequate supervision, failed to set clear safety procedures, failed to follow its own safety procedures, failed to properly train its lifeguards, failed to provide proper equipment to assist and save Batee, failed to have an appropriate number of lifeguards for the number of swimmers and allowed the lifeguard to use her cell phone while working.

In her three-count suit, Jenkins seeks a judgment of more than $150,000.

Michael P. Glisson of Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson in Alton will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-449.

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