The teenager helped her teammates cover their heads with the blankets, but no one noticed that she never came out.
A 14-year-old swimmer drowned after her team failed to realize she was still in the pool after they covered it with a heavy plastic sheet, a lawsuit claims.
Nabila Maazouz was found dead in the Hillsboro Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center pool, beneath the cover she had been helping replace after practice ended.
The tragic accident occurred on November 20, 2019; her family has now filed a $70 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city, the school district, and the company that makes the pool covers.
Nabila, a freshman at Oregon Episcopal School and member of the Liberty High School swim team, had been practicing with the team the night she died, when the coach instructed them to help unfurl the covers, which create suction when rolled onto the water, KOIN reported.
While still in the water, Nabila and several teammates grabbed one cover and swam with it to the deep end of the pool; they then swam back to grab a second cover and do the same. But after the second cover was placed, the teen never resurfaced.
The lawsuit says the rest of the team got out of the pool, as the coach shut down practice and turned off the lights, with nobody noticing Nabila was missing.
Her mother Patricia Maazouz was waiting for her in the parking lot, and became worried when she saw everybody leaving without her. She went inside to ask the coach and staff members where her daughter was. After a 20 minute search, her body was discovered, trapped beneath the covers in the deep end of the pool.
The lawsuit alleges the ThermGard pool covers were “defective” and “unreasonably dangerous”, accusing the manufacturers Universal Filtration Inc. of failing to provide adequate warning labels; the seller BK Reilly & Co are also named defendants. Neither has commented on the suit.
The lawsuit also claims Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department and Hillsboro School District were negligent for allowing the use of the pool covers, allowing swimmers to swim beneath them, failing to supervise them as they did so, not properly training staff, not having a lifeguard on duty, and for failing to realize Nabila never made it out of the pool.
“Our hearts remain with the Maazouz family and everyone in our community who has been devastated by the tragic death of Nabila,” a city spokesperson told the outlet.
“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.”
Nabila’s mom told the broadcaster the lawsuit is forcing the family to relive the tragedy, but they hope it will enforce changes that may save other young lives.
“The thing that makes it so bad is that Nabila’s death was preventable,” she said.
“We hope this lawsuit will make changes in the aquatic industry to prevent further tragedy from happening.”
She added: “We continue living every parent’s worst nightmare. Those responsible need to be held accountable, and we don’t ever want another family to go through what we are going through.”