Parents sue Baltimore County, college over girl, 4, who drowned

March 29, 2003|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

The parents of a 4-year-old girl who drowned two years ago at the Community College of Baltimore County's Essex campus are suing the county, the college, three lifeguards and the girl's grandmother, who had brought Azia Gray and other children to the campus pool that February evening.

The $6 million wrongful death lawsuit, which Lamont and Joy Gray filed late last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court, claims that neither the grandmother, Cynthia F. Miller, nor anyone else responsible for the East Baltimore girl was paying attention as she slipped under water and to the bottom of the indoor pool.

"This is a situation where if anyone was paying any attention at all, this little girl would have been saved," said attorney Steven D. Silverman, who is representing the Grays.

Miller of East Baltimore did not return several phone calls over the past two days.

Baltimore County Attorney Edward J. Gilliss said he had not been served with the lawsuit. Neither had the Community College of Baltimore County, according to college spokeswoman Hope H. Davis.

Miller was supposed to be watching the little girl at the time, according to the lawsuit. But she left Azia near the side of the pool to teach other children some swimming strokes, the suit alleges.

It was not until Miller got out of the pool that she noticed her granddaughter was missing, according to the suit. Then, it said, she saw the girl at the bottom of the pool and started screaming.

The lifeguards hadn't noticed anything amiss until they heard the woman's screams, according to the lawsuit.

Paramedics brought the girl to Franklin Square Hospital Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Silverman would not comment on the relationship between the Grays and Miller, saying it was a "private matter between the family members." He said the focus of the suit would be on the lifeguards and the county.

Silverman said Azia's parents had not filed the lawsuit closer to the time of the drowning, which occurred Feb. 9, 2001, because they have been in shock.

"It had a devastating effect on them," he said of the girl's death. "As their heads started to clear, they contacted a lawyer."

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