A 14 year-old girl drowned under pool covers at the end of swim practice after her teammates and coach failed to notice she was missing, with her family now filing a $70 million wrongful death lawsuit.
Nabila Maazouz’s grief-stricken mom Patty and dad Mostafa filed the suit last Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court, Oregon, two years after the teenager’s untimely passing.
It names the city of Hillsboro, the Hillsboro School District, and Universal Filtration Inc. – the manufacturer of the cover that entombed the youth – and Portland pool goods seller The Pool and Spa House as defendants, and argues that Nabila’s death was the direct result of their collective negligence.
Nabila’s horrific death happened at Hillsboro’s Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center on November 20 2019, while she and her teammates put covers on the pool at the end of practice.
Nabila Maazouz died in November 2019 while helping put covers on an Oregon pool after practice. Neither her teammates nor her coach realized she was missing, with the alarm raised by her mom Patty, who was parked outside the aquatics center waiting for Nabila to finish up
The youngsters took a piece of cover for the end of the pool, then swam back underneath it to fetch another piece to place on top.
It was after the second piece had been placed that Nabila, a freshman at Oregon Episcopal School, got into difficulty, but neither her teammates nor coach noticed that she was missing.
The youngster’s mother Patty was waiting in her car outside the sports center for the practice to finish, and only raised the alarm after seeing the other team members and coach come out. Nabila was found dead in the darkened pool shortly afterwards, 25 minutes after the meeting had ended.
Speaking about the tragedy to KOIN 6, a Portland news outlet, an emotional Patty said: ‘The thing that makes it so bad is that Nabila’s death was preventable.
‘We hope this lawsuit will make changes in the aquatic industry to prevent further tragedy from happening.
‘We continue living every parent’s worst nightmare.’
Upon the practice’s completion, coaches had instructed the group of young swimmers to cover the facility’s indoor pool with an assortment of heavy covers that create suction when rolled on top of water, the suit states.
Nabila and several of her teammates allegedly then grabbed the first pool cover, and swam with it to the deep end of the pool, and then swam back to the shallow end under the cover.
At that point, Nabila and a selection of her fellow swimmers then grabbed a second cover and swam it over to the deep end – leaving it next to the first cover.
They then swam back under the second cover – but, this time, Nabila did not resurface, the filing states.
Nabila died while placing covers at Shute Park Aquatic and Recreation Center in Hillsboro, Oregon, but none of her teammates realized she’d gone missing
The swimmers, at this point oblivious to their teammate’s absence, continued to cover the pool over the course of several minutes, and exited the facility with their coaches once they were finished, turning the lights off, according to the lawsuit.
Meanwhile Patty Maazouz was waiting outside the center to pick up her daughter, in the facility’s parking lot.
She saw a slew of students leave the building, and grew concerned when she realized that her daughter was not one of them.
At this point, the suit states, the mother went inside the facility to ask coaches and pool staff where her daughter was.
A search then ensued for the missing swimmer – who was not found until 20-25 minutes later, according to the Hillsboro Police Department.
Her body was submerged under the collection of pool covers, in the deep end of the pool.
Unresponsive, coaches and staff at the facility pulled Nabila’s body from the pool’s waters, and commenced life-saving efforts to resuscitate the teen, which were ultimately unsuccessful.
Police were then called to the scene at 9:26 pm – more than 25 minutes after the practice had finished.
Nabila was pronounced dead at the scene.
The lawsuit, filed by Patty and her husband Mostafa, claims the ThermaGard pool covers were ‘defective and unreasonably dangerous,’ allowing Maazouz to become trapped underneath.
‘Those responsible, need to be held accountable,’ Patty told KOIN 6 in a telephone interview.
‘We continue to live every parent’s worst nightmare,’ she added, referring to her and her husband.
‘The thing that makes it so bad was that Nabila’s death was preventable.’
The parents’ filing also claims that the design and manufacture of the cover allowed the teen to become entrapped beneath it.
The covers also violated industry standards for safety and fell short of pool cover labeling requirements, the lawsuit said.
The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit also cites the Hillsboro School District, city of Hillsboro and the city’s parks and recreation department for ‘allowing swim team members to swim beneath the pool covers’ and ‘failing to supervise the swim team while they covered the pool so as to ensure that it was done safely.’
The suit also takes issue with the district’s use of the particular cover – which the Maazouz family argues was not up to code – and not having lifeguards on duty, while also failing to train employees on how to safely cover the pool – and, perhaps most importantly, failing to notice that Nabila did not resurface with the other team members.
The district has refused to comment on the lawsuit, but released this statement in regards to the teen’s passing: ‘Nabila’s death was a tragedy that we are still grieving. Our hearts and thoughts continue to go out to her family and all who knew her.’
The city responded to the incident through its spokesperson, Patrick Preston, who said in a statement to The Oregonian: ‘Our hearts remain with the Maazouz family and everyone in our community who has been devastated by the tragic death of Nabila,’ adding that ‘the City of Hillsboro is committed to caring for the safety and well-being of all community members at all City facilities.’
Hillsboro School District spokesperson Beth Graser said Maazouz’s ‘death was a tragedy that we are all still grieving.’
‘Our hearts and thoughts continue to go out to her family and all who knew her,’ Graser said.