Ga. Apartment Complex Pays $2.25M In Drowning of Toddler

The owners of a DeKalb County, Georgia apartment complex have reached at $2.25 million settlement with the family of a 2-year-old boy who died in a 2003 drowning in the complex pool.

Jonathan Flores was three days shy of his third birthday on July 26, 2003, when he entered the pool area through a broken gate at The Cliffs apartments, fell into the pool and drowned, according to a lawsuit filed by the boy’s parents, Raul Jaimes Benitez and Oralia Flores Rivera, in DeKalb County State Court.

His father, Benitez, was fixing a car nearby, according to the lawsuit. The case was settled Aug. 9.

The family’s attorneys said Tempo Real Estate Corp., the apartment owners, had been cited 21 times by the DeKalb County Board of Health because the broken pool gate was neither self-closing nor self-latching.

Michael Haggard, a Miami-based lawyer who represented the Flores’ family, said Jonathan’s death was preventable.

“I hope other apartment complex owners will learn from this horrible incident that an effective pool barrier is a necessity for their property so that other children do not end up drowning as Jonathan did,” Haggard said in a statement issued Tuesday.

An attorney for the apartment complex, Stephen Cotter, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.