STAMFORD - A pool company president has been charged in the drowning of a 6-year-old boy.
David Lionetti, 53, was charged with second-degree manslaughter Monday in connection with Zachary Cohn?s drowning. Cohn drowned on July 26, 2007, when his arm became stuck in an intake valve of his family?s in-ground pool, police say.
Officials say Lionetti, the president of Shoreline Pools, recklessly caused the death of Cohn by failing to have his company install mandated safety devices in the pool the company built for the Cohn family. Authorities say the installation of these devices would have prevented Cohn?s death.
Lionetti?s attorney Richard Meehan Jr. says his client plans to plead not guilty. ?To my knowledge, this is the first time an executive from a pool company has been prosecuted for homicide for claimed code violations in the installation of a pool,? Meehan says.
Prosecutor David Cohen disagrees, saying he believes there have been other criminal prosecutions involving pool safety. He does not believe anyone else will be charged at this point.
The Cohn family filed the lawsuit in January, claiming the pool violated safety code requirements designed in response to similar cases around the country.
"Nothing will bring our son back but we hope this prosecution will help prevent another horrific incident like this from happening to someone else," the parents said in a statement released by their attorneys. "Those who knowingly violate pool safety codes designed to protect children should be held accountable for their actions."
Since 1985, more than 150 cases have been reported nationwide of swimming pool drain entrapments, leading to at least 48 deaths and many serious injuries, according to the Cohn family?s lawsuit.
?The fact that he is being prosecuted highlights the seriousness of the issues in the case when it comes to safety in the state of Connecticut,? family Attorney Ernie Teitell says. ?Especially when a violation of codes results in an unnecessary death.?
Lionetti was released on $25,000 bail. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The arrest came three days after a fire destroyed Shoreline Pools? Stamford warehouse. Thirteen police officers and four firefighters were treated for chemical exposure and other injuries. The cause of the fire is unknown.
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