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Girl Injured by Pool Drain Testifies in Civil Suit

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RALEIGH — An 8-year-old Cary girl, criticallyinjured three years ago in a bizarre pool-drain accident, described heralmost-fatal injuries and the continuing medical treatments she mustendure during testimony Friday in a Wake County civil trial.

Valerie Lakey's family is suingSta-Rite, a Wisconsin firm that purchased the company that made the pooldrain covers used by the Medfield Area Recreation Center in Cary. Lakey'sfamily claims Sta-Rite wasnegligent because it did not put a warning label on the cover until late1987. In 1974, a California boy was killed on an uncovered drain, and in1977 a Henderson, N.C., boy was seriously injured.

In brief testimony Friday in Wake Superior Court,Lakey described treatment for her injuries, including daily,hour-and-a half antibiotic treatments.

"Do you take that in your mouth? Howdo you get that?" an attorney asked.

"I get it through atube," she said.

Valerie almost died after herintestines were pulled out by thesuction of an uncovered pool drain.

Her parents are suing Sta-Rite for$35 million to $40 million dollars to compensate for the girl's physicaland emotional injuries.

The Lakeys already have settled withWake County and the Cary Club where theaccident happened.

A nurse who cared for Valerie forthree years testified that Valerie is ableto ride a bike, swim competitively andinteract well with children and adults.

She said Valerie'sparents must be credited."I would have to say that Valerie iswho she is because of the mom and dadthat she has," said nurse Laurie Cadmus. "They are 100 percentbehind her."

Testimony in the case will continue next week, and the trial may notconclude until next month.

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