nvdaily.com link to home page

Traffic | Weather | Mobile Edition
Archives | Subscribe | Guide to the Daily

Local News arrow Big Picture arrow Woodstock

| 0 | 2 Comments

Half Moon Beach trial scheduled

View larger image

State police divers prepare to map out the bottom terrain of Half Moon Beach quarry after a drowning in 2008. Rich Cooley/Daily file

* Breaking News

If local news is breaking and you know about it:
* Call Us: 800-296-5137
* E-mail Us
* Upload Your Photos

Experts say area failed to have properly trained, positioned lifeguards on location

By Preston Knight-pknight@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- A New Hampshire aquatics expert has determined that Half Moon Beach failed to have properly trained and positioned lifeguards when a 6-year-old girl drowned there in August 2008, according to Shenandoah County Circuit Court documents.

A five-day jury trial has been scheduled for March 28 through April 1 in a $24 million lawsuit brought by the victim's father against Half Moon Beach Park Inc., Skyline Paintball Inc., Strasburg Land LLC and Dunmore Land LLC. Dakota Lee Hansen, 6, of Culpeper, drowned on Aug. 9, 2008, during a family visit to the former quarry on Radio Station Road in Strasburg. Her father, Edward Hansen, filed the lawsuit in November 2008.

In court documents filed in recent weeks, Richard Dulaney, the attorney representing Edward Hansen, submitted an identification of expert witnesses, with Gerald Dworkin, of Lifesaving Resources Inc. in Harrisville, N.H., among them. Dworkin, a technical consultant for aquatics safety and water resources who has consulted in more than 225 drowning and aquatic injury litigation cases as a plaintiff and defense expert, reviewed eyewitness statements, a report from the Strasburg Police Department and other information before finding the resort at fault.

According to court records, Dakota, her parents and four siblings visited the park, and the girl had been playing in the water for about 30-45 minutes when, while near the rope at the boundary of the shallow non-swimmers area, she stepped off a ledge into deep water and was unable to recover and swim to shore. Lifeguards did not see the girl progress to the area, records state.

Once in water over her head, Dakota became distressed and drowned, again without being recognized by lifeguards, documents state. There was no lifeguard in the elevated stand immediately before or during the onset of the girl's submersion, they state, and several people mentioned that the four lifeguards on duty were texting, talking on cell phones or assigned to handle boat rentals. The stand was the only one covering the 130-foot span of the swimming area.

Less than a month earlier, Nathaniel B. King, 26, of Marshall, drowned at the park, and that incident should have put Half Moon Beach "on notice" about the risks there, Dulaney states in a filing.

According to Dworkin's Nov. 16 report, Dakota was in 8-foot water where the public does not know of drastic depth change. She was discovered lying motionless by an 11-year-old girl, not a lifeguard, he adds.

"Had vigilant, strategically positioned, and appropriately trained lifeguards been on duty, they would have and should have prevented [Dakota] from progressing to the deeper water with such a severe drop-off," Dworkin states.

He states that the park also lacked proper equipment to treat victims, and among other issues was a failure to assess the number of patrons, which was between 100 and 150. Dworkin notes that small children are attracted to water and have little concept of the dangers associated with it, and drowning is a silent death in which victims do not call out
for help.

After Dakota's death, the Strasburg Police Department, with assistance from state police and the town's fire and rescue departments, conducted a safety evaluation. It recommended that three lifeguard stations be manned at all times, and another lifeguard be posted on the floating docks when there are more than 40 swimmers.

Also, it advised that automated external defibrillator machines be located at two lifeguard stations, and two-way radios, rather than cell phones, should be used to communicate.

"Cell phones are a distraction and should not be used on duty," the report states.


That dump should have been shut down years before.


This is a tough one. I do blame half moon for not having better staff and better roped off areas...

I just am not sure if people understand how they need to watch kids around any kind of water. especially lakes where you can't see the bottom. And if they know the child cannot swimg we should be especially dilligent in protecting them. I cannot imagine the grief involved in the circumstances. We always have been to campgrounds with no life guards at all and wewere watched like hawks even after we were good swimmers and I do the same for my children. I refuse to got to public swimming pools because so many children are just running around with no supervision. Life guards are not daycare. Peace to all involved.

Leave a comment

What do you think?

(You may use HTML tags for style)


Comments that are posted on nvdaily.com represent the opinion of the commenter and not the Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com.

Comments that contain Web addresses, e-mail addresses, personal attacks, name-calling or personal information considered by the editor to be inappropriate for posting here will not be posted.

Commenters agree to abide by our COMMENTS POLICY when posting. Questions? E-mail us at info@nvdaily.com.


Local News Sections

2010: Year in Review Apple Blossom Festival Basye Berryville Big Picture Books Boyce Breaking News Business City of Winchester Clarke County Cockfighting Case College Columns Corrections Courthouse Notes Courts & Legal News Crime & Public Safety Economy and Jobs Edinburg Edward N. Bell Entertainment Entertainment Spotlight Environment Fall 2010 Feature Photos Featured Festivals Financial Fire Fort Valley Frederick County Front Royal Hard Times Health History Holidays Homes In The Spotlight Jody Lynn Bradley Justin Shane Slater Ledger Library Livestock Local Government Local Markets Local Sports Maurertown Media Middletown Military & Veterans Moms Mt. Jackson New Market New Market Fire Department Page County Pets & Animals Politics Power Line Quicksburg Religion School News Shenandoah County Solar Farm Staff Picks Stephens City Strasburg Swine Flu The Year in Review Toms Brook Tourism Traffic & Transportation Upcoming Events Video In The Spotlight Volunteer Rescue Squads Warren County Weather Woodstock

News | Sports | Business | Lifestyle | Obituaries | Opinion | Multimedia| Entertainment | Homes | Classifieds
Guide to the Daily: Advertise | Circulation | Contact Us | NIE | Place a Classified | Privacy Policy | Subscribe

Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily | nvdaily.com | 152 N. Holliday St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 | (800) 296-5137

The best small daily newspaper in Virginia!

nvdaily.com | seeshenandoah.com