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Family of boy who nearly drowned says it will sue for damages

By Adam Schrager, aschrager@wisctv.com
Published On: Jul 02 2013 06:18:04 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 02 2013 07:32:21 PM CDT

Surveillance video shows Travonne Allen, 13, was under water for a total of 3 minutes, 19 seconds.

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. -

The family of a 13-year-old Sun Prairie resident who nearly drowned earlier this spring in the Sun Prairie High School pool has officially notified the Sun Prairie School District that it intends to sue for $150,000 in damages plus medical costs.

Lawyers for Trevonne Allen, who sank to the bottom of the pool for three minutes and 19 seconds during a seventh-grade physical education class at the pool, and his mother, Andrea Allen filed the paperwork on Tuesday afternoon.

Trevonne was rescued when a student alerted a teacher as to his condition, and the former Sun Prairie aquatics director, Eric Breidel, jumped in the pool and pulled him out. The district said Breidel resigned his position last month.

The notice of claim filed by the Allens asserts that there was only one certified lifeguard, Breidel, on duty during the hourlong class on March 20.

Two physical education teachers took lifeguard classes a year and a half before the incident, but their paperwork was not filed with the Red Cross. As a result, the legal document asserts, the district was "negligent in patrolling the pool area and in adequately protecting young children under their immediate supervision in an obviously hazardous situation."

Trevonne was one of 118 students from Patrick Marsh Middle School bussed to the high school for the two-day swim class. No test was done to determine the swimming ability of individual students.

Trevonne wore a life vest for the first 35-40 minutes of the class period before taking it off and engaging in rough play with his friends at the pool. Video from the pool shows he and numerous others pushing each other in the pool and other activities prohibited in the pool area without anyone stepping in to stop it.

"The Sun Prairie High School, Sun Prairie Area School District, and/or Patrick Marsh Middle School knew or should have known that permitting 118 middle school students -- many of whom had little or no swimming competence or ability -- to freely swim and cavort with abandon, without any organized rules or structure in the pool, or proper supervision (according to both law and practicality), created an inherently dangerous situation that put all of the students involved at unnecessary and aggravated risk of injury," the legal notice said.

Sun Prairie School District administrator Tim Culver did not respond to requests for a comment.

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