Horwitz attorney Michael Carter fights for boy's family to raise awareness for pool safety.
|Vicente Cardenas, 4, who drowned on June 15, 2012, in Glenview. (handout, HANDOUT / June 21, 2012)|
By Alexandra Chachkevitch, Chicago Tribune reporter
June 6, 2013
The family of a 4-year-old boy who drowned in a Glenview Park District pool nearly a year ago has filed a lawsuit against the park district, Wesley Child Care Center and the Village of Glenview.
Vicente Emmanuel Cardenas drowned at the Roosevelt Outdoor Aquatic Pool on June 15. His family accuses the agencies of negligence, according to the complaint filed May 30.
The family alleges that the child care center's employees should have known that Vicente was "a hyperactive child" and an inexperienced swimmer, and that they failed to provide proper supervision on the day of the incident.
Michael Carter, an attorney representing the Cardenas family, said his clients suffered tremendous emotional trauma and are seeking damages in excess of $10 million.
"What happened here is beyond negligence," Carter said. "You don't open a pool to kids unless you provide a safe environment for them."
Vicente, of Glenview, drowned during Wesley Child Care Center's summer camp, according to police. The pool at 2239 Fir St. is owned and operated by the Glenview Park District.
Carter said Vicente was a special-needs child who had a developmental disability and required extra care.
Stacey Wilkins, one of the attorneys representing the child care center, said she couldn't comment because of the pending litigation. But she said the center extends its sympathies to the Cardenas family.
"The safety of our students is always a first priority for Wesley," Wilkins said.
Wilkins noted that immediately after the drowning, the center stopped trips to the Roosevelt pool for its preschool camp program, which includes 2- to 5-year-old children. Only children ages 4 1/2 to 5 years in the group were allowed to go to the pool before, Wilkins said.
The Department of Children and Family Services conducted a three-month investigation, and none of the employees involved in the incident were disciplined and the center retained its license, Wilkins said.
A Glenview police investigation did not result in any charges.
Glenview Village Attorney Eric Patt said he doesn't believe the village has been properly named in the lawsuit because the village and the park district are separate governmental entities. The village doesn't control actions of the park district, Patt said.
Glenview Park District's executive director, Charles Balling, declined to respond to the lawsuit because of pending litigation.
"My thoughts continue to be with the Cardenas family," Balling said.
The complaint also gave details about the boy's life. After Vicente was born in Colombia, a paramedic found him wrapped in a blanket in a garbage can, according to the lawsuit. He lived in a foster home for 10 months until he was adopted by his parents, Vicente Cardenas and Natalia Skorupko, both Glenview residents.
"He was a miracle baby," Carter said, adding that the family hopes its case brings attention to the safety of children around water.
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