Police Rule Cause of Drowning to Be Accidental
On the last day of February of this year, the police announced that they were closing an ongoing investigation into the death of an 18-year-old student at Northwestern University who was found dead last fall in Wilmette Harbor. The student had been reported missing after a party on September 22nd, and fishermen discovered his body floating in the water five days later after an extensive search local law enforcement and rescue agencies. The police cited alcohol as being a possible contributing factor in the accident, since his blood alcohol concentration was found to be 1.5 times the legal limit, though the coroner's examination found that drowning was the cause of death. The investigators used cell phone tracking records to discover that the student had walked to the harbor around 1:00 AM before the cell phone's signal was lost. His body was found without any signs of an attack or foul play, though there was a bruise on his head which might have been the result of striking an object upon falling into the harbor.
This student's tragic death represents one more in a long line of fatal drowning accidents. When they happen in locations such as on the waterfront, it is often impossible for the surviving family members to recover any type of financial compensation by pursuing legal action in a wrongful death claim. If, however, the accident occurs in a private pool such as at a residence or in a water park, it is often possible for the family to file a premises liability claim against the property owner. Premises liability claims are based on the understanding that property owners are legally responsible to safeguard their guests against known hazards, such as by installing fencing and a self-latching gate around a pool. If a loved one has been involved in a drowning accident in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, contact Duncan Law Group, LLC to discuss the matter with an attorney who can advise you of whether you have a case.