Waterbury Boys and Girls Club to Pay $12M After “Very Horrible” Drowning

The victim's mother says she'll use the money to buy her daughter a headstone.

The Waterbury Boys and Girls Club has been ordered to pay $12.3 million to the mother of a 5-year-old drowning victim, who describes her daughter as a "perfect little angel."

Brianna Murray, a kindergartner at Wendell Cross Elementary School, was at the Boys and Girls with about 30 other children on June 9, 2008 when she went underwater.

She wasn't pulled out until another child who was in the pool called for a lifeguard, according to the law firm representing Brianna's family.

Brianna was taken to St. Mary's Hospital, then flown to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she died after being declared brain dead.

The lawsuit, filed in September 2009, claimed the club failed to properly train its lifeguards, failed to have the proper number of guards on duty and failed to have a proper emergency plan.

"It's been tough," said Brianna's mother, Retemar Robinson. "The trial was very hard."

According to attorney Kathleen Nestri, too many children crowded the pool that day and the lifeguard was not properly dressed or in the right place to make a rescue.

"It was really a terrible, terrible, unsafe situation that they put these kids in," said Nestri.

Brianna's brother, Darnell, went in after her, trying in vain to save his sister.

"She died a very horrible death that could have been preventable," Robinson said.

Although the ruling has brought some closure, Robinson said it's small comfort.

"It's a bittersweet day because no amount of money could bring back my daughter," she said. "I entrusted the Boys and Girls Club to take care of my kids and they let me down in every way possible. It's just a very horrible situation."

The Boys and Girls Club released the following statement in response to the decision:

"We were then, are now and forever will be saddened by the death of Brianna Murray. Since this incident in 2008, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Waterbury has made drastic changes to its policies, procedures and training programs to make sure that our Club provides the safest environment for our members and staff."

Officials from the Boys and Girls club said "child protection and safety is the number one priority" and the organization aims "to safeguard the precious young people we serve every day."

Robinson said she wants to use the money she's awarded to send Darnell to a better school and to buy her daughter a headstone.

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