It was the cries for help of a 6-year-old boy near the Upper Pond section of Grace Lord Park that initially alerted authorities to an emergency on February 24th, 2021. The crying boy, whose identity has not been specified by Morris County officials, was found by himself near the pond around 5:45 PM.
Next to the young child were footsteps in the snow leading down to the water. However, neither Warda Syed (the boy's mother) nor Uzair Ahmed (the boy's brother) were visible in the area. Soon after, officials encountered the two victims' bodies in the water further down on Rockaway River. Within the hour, the bodies of the two victims were retrieved by members of Boonton's Swift Water Rescue Team.
Initial investigations found no indication of any kind of foul play. Upon inquiry, some local residents indicated that drownings have occurred in the same area in the past though it is uncommon for it to have occurred during the wintertime. Signage present at the site of the pond drowning warns visitors of a steep drop, one which could have been made even more treacherous by the cold weather.
Nearly two weeks after the incident, on March 2nd, 2021, Morris County officials ruled the pond drowning deaths an accident. The official statement explained: “There is no cause to believe there was any criminal activity involved in either individual’s death... Out of respect and consideration for family of the deceased, there will be no further comment on the circumstances of the incident.” This conclusion was also reached by the Moonton police detective bureau, the Morris Cty Sheriff's Office, and the Morris County major crimes unit.
It's not often that one hears about individuals drowning in a pond or other local waterway. As a result, when such tragic events do take place, it's normal for individuals to brush them off as "freak accidents." Yet, just because an accident occurred, it does not mean that no-one can be held responsible.
The damages experienced by victims and their surviving family members are a very real consequence of such accidents. For this reason, the civil justice system offers avenues for seeking justice.
Determining responsibility in a pond drowning case can be quite complicated. It's possible that the county in charge of building the facilities could be considered liable if warning signs were not visible or present. There's also the possibility that even though warning signs were present, more could have been done to prevent personal injury, including building new barriers or even extending existing ones.
As a general rule, if a specific type of incident has occurred multiple times in the same location and the responsible party has not made the proper changes to prevent the same accident from recurring down the line, they may be considered liable. Such cases are often built on the legal foundation of premises liability laws which state that property owners owe their visitors a duty of care. If this standard of care isn't provided, the property owner can be held liable for damages suffered as a result.
All drowning cases are different which is why it's so critical to discuss your case with an experienced drowning law firm. Contact the Garden State Justice Group today to learn more in a free consultation.
Garden State Justice Group
403 NJ-70 3rd Fl
Cherry Hill, NJ, US