Sometimes accidents happen that are out of our control, but other times, they could have been avoided altogether. One family learned a terrible lesson when they trusted their local country club to provide a safe environment for their daughter.
They had no idea of the dangers that were lurking there, and that the club was keeping hidden secrets from its members for years. One day the truth came to light and it had devastating consequences…
Who Is Abigail Taylor?
Abigail “Abbey” Taylor, 6, had just finished kindergarten at Concord Elementary School in the summer of 2008. She lived with her parents and three sisters in Edina, Minnesota and was a vivacious and positive little girl.
One of Abbey’s favorite pastimes was swimming. At age 6, she was already a strong swimmer and even a member of the Minneapolis Golf Club Swim Team. She enjoyed going there on warm summer days to cool off and her parents always accompanied her…
Minneapolis Golf Club
On June 29, 2007, Abbey went for a swim in the kiddy pool at the Minneapolis Golf Club in St. Louis Park. One minute Abbey was splashing in 18 inches of water, the next, she fell on the pool’s uncovered drain.
Something Terrible Happened
Paramedics were called to the pool shortly after 8 pm that Friday to tend to Abbey. Her mother, Katie Taylor saw that as Abbey got out of the kids’ pool, she appeared pale and unsteady. As Abbey walked near the main pool, she fell and knocked her tooth out. It was clear she was suffering…
What Was Wrong?
Abbey was taken to the hospital and her parents, Katie and Scott, prayed that their little girl didn’t suffer any serious injuries. However, upon Abbey’s arrival in the ER, it became clear doctors were talking about something more serious than heat exhaustion, dehydration or some sort of seizure.
Worst Case Scenario
Abbey went into surgery and after the operation was stable but what was left of her small intestine needed to be removed. This was beyond the worst case scenario that the Taylor family were prepped about before Abbey’s surgery. The surgeon actually did not even know how Abbey survived…
The Pool Cover
He told the family that Abbey was injured when she sat on the pool’s drain and its powerful suction ripped out part of her intestinal tract. A scary instance like this could literally be happening even if you’re holding your child’s hand. Pool filtration systems are meant to be covered and secure so that they don’t literally tear your organs from your body!
This concept was very difficult for Abbey to understand and her parents demanded answers. They learned that eight days before Abbey’s accident on June 21, 2007, the club’s manager and 10 other staffers attended a meeting about “the hazards that can be seen in and around pools.” But why weren’t parents or the teenage pool staff alerted to this information?
According to the minutes of the club’s meeting on June 21, 2007, the manager mentioned four potential dangers. They included chlorine smell, foam in hot tubs, urination in pools, and “old-style outlet covers (suction).” “Loose or missing covers result in disembowelment or death,” the report read. The Taylor’s couldn’t believe what they were hearing…
The family’s attorney, Robert Bennett presented the information to them and said that an investigation turned up evidence that the pool operators repeatedly cut corners and used worn-out materials on the drain cover. They were ignoring the safety instructions from the manufacturer. Still, the club’s manager was aware of these dangers, so why wasn’t any action taken?
A Freak Accident
The Taylor’s decided to make their story public while Abbey was still in the hospital fighting for her life. It was Abbey’s only wish as she told her parents she wanted them to tell her story so that it wouldn’t happen to any other kid. That December 2007, just one month after her family sued the golf club and Sta-Rite Industries ( the pool equipment manufacturer), Abbey received some horrible news.
Abbey’s Only Chance
Doctors told Abbey she needed transplant surgery and that it was her only hope of survival. She would need to receive a new small bowel, liver, and pancreas at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Being that it’s one of the only medical facilities in the country that specializes in this procedure, Abbey’s family thought their daughter would be in good hands…
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act
Coincidentally, the same day that Abbey went into surgery, Congress enacted a new federal pool-safety law. The law is named after a 7-year-old drowned in a pool when a suction from a drain trapped her. Being that Abbey’s incident wasn’t the first of its kind, it was avoidable! Despite their frustration, the family focused all of their energy on Abbey’s recovery.
In February 2008, two months after her surgery, Abbey developed a cancerous condition, that, on rare occasions, is triggered by organ transplants. The condition, called PTLD (post-transplant lymphoprolipherative disease), affects certain blood cells. There was no way to avoid this since Abbey desperately needed the transplant, and now, her fate was uncertain again…
Yet Another Surgery
One month later, in March 2008, Abigail’s dad, Scott Taylor, spoke out saying his daughter needed kidney dialysis to remove excess fluid in her body. At that point, she’d already had 16 surgeries and too many infections to count. “She fought so bloody hard and didn’t catch one break…It all stems from June 29.”
While Abbey fought for her life in the hospital, she told her parents that she wanted them to tell her story so that it wouldn’t happen to any other kid. Unfortunately, Abbey died on March 21, nine months after her accident. The Taylor family were beyond devastated, but then they received some more shocking news…
According to information obtained by their lawyer, educated certified pool professionals and club management at MGC knew that the uncovered drain in the shallow kiddy pool was in the most dangerous possible condition in the entire complex. Still, amazingly, lifeguards were never told of the danger and neither were any of the club members.
What none of them knew, especially Scott and Katie, was that Abbey’s death sentence was signed before she was even born. The Minneapolis Golf Club had been cutting corners and running their facility on the cheap and in a hurry. They brought the right assembly kit from Sta-Rite back in 1999, but threw the bottom away and attached the top to a worn-out frame with worn-out plugs…
Ignoring It For A Decade
Then they did the same thing in 2002, the last time the cover was replaced. If installed properly, the drain cover was designed to resist 500 pounds of pressure, but the way it was rigged, tests showed the cover came off with only 12 pounds of pressure! On the day of Abbey’s accident, the cover was lying at the bottom of the pool, next to the open drain. Everyone at the club knew about it, but no one did anything.
In May 2008, the Minneapolis Golf Club settled with Abbey’s family for $8 million for her fatal accident. The Taylor family also reached a confidential settlement with the company that made the drain cover, Sta-Rite Industries. Sta-Rite contributed $2 million to a foundation the family created, ‘Abbey’s Hope,’ to promote pool safety and encourage organ donation.