Parents sue after child almost drowns at Port Fairy swim centre

Distressed parents of a Warrnambool schoolboy who nearly drowned five minutes before his classmate died on a school excursion are suing the state government and the pool’s operators over their son’s nightmare.

Brad and Pearl Sutton’s son was on school camp at Belfast Aquatics in Port Fairy in May 2021 with classmate Cooper Onyett and 26 other students from Merrivale Primary School.

The couple claim their 8-year-old son got into significant trouble in the deep end of the pool when he jumped off an inflatable obstacle course that was booked by the school.

Their son was saved by an adult by the side of the pool who called the attention of a teacher and lifesaver; but five minutes later, tragedy struck when the boy’s classmate Cooper drowned.

Mr and Mrs Sutton are suing the Victorian government and Port Fairy Community Pool Management Group who run Belfast Aquatics for negligence.

Senior associate Nicole Elliott-Struth from Arnold Thomas and Becker, who is representing the family, said the impacts on the Suttons were “far-reaching”.

“Our clients have advised that their child was pulled from the pool after becoming stuck under the inflatable device,” she said.

“The child was unable to swim and the parents had provided this information in the consent forms to the school.

“We are currently preparing a legal claim on behalf of the family which will be served on the two defendants.”

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