Local News

Girl Injured by Pool Drain Testifies in Civil Suit

Posted December 13, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— An 8-year-old Cary girl, critically injured three years ago in a bizarre pool-drain accident, described her almost-fatal injuries and the continuing medical treatments she must endure during testimony Friday in a Wake County civil trial.

Valerie Lakey's family is suing Sta-Rite, a Wisconsin firm that purchased the company that made the pool drain covers used by the Medfield Area Recreation Center in Cary. Lakey's family claims Sta-Rite was negligent because it did not put a warning label on the cover until late 1987. In 1974, a California boy was killed on an uncovered drain, and in 1977 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? How do you get that?" an attorney asked.

"I get it through a tube," she said.

Valerie almost died after her intestines were pulled out by the suction of an uncovered pool drain.

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

The Lakeys already have settled with Wake County and the Cary Club where the accident happened.

A nurse who cared for Valerie for three years testified that Valerie is able to ride a bike, swim competitively and interact well with children and adults.

She said Valerie's parents must be credited. "I would have to say that Valerie is who she is because of the mom and dad that she has," said nurse Laurie Cadmus. "They are 100 percent behind her."

Testimony in the case will continue next week, and the trial may not conclude until next month.