Attorney for man who drowned at Xenia YMCA: Death was preventable

The YMCA of Greater Dayton said it is working to find out how a man drowned at its facility in Xenia, and the attorney representing the victim’s family said video shows the incident could have been prevented.

Vijay Kumar Goenka died Tuesday at Kettering Medical Center, three days after he was found unconscious at the bottom of a pool at the Xenia YMCA. The 67-year-old lived in India but was in town visiting family.

The Dayton YMCA has launched an internal investigation, according to Dale Brunner, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Dayton.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Vijay Kumar Goenka, and we wish to express our condolences to Mr. Goenka’s family and friends,” Brunner’s statement reads.

Goenka was pulled out of the pool and was receiving CPR when an employee called 911, according to police and dispatch records.

Attorney Michael Wright is representing the victim’s family. Wright told this news organization on Thursday the YMCA allowed him to view surveillance video of the incident.

“It’s clear that this should not have occurred,” Wright said. “I saw the father struggling, going under water multiple times and it taking a very long period of time for them to come to his aid.”

Ajay Goenka, the victim’s son, said he was told by YMCA officials that period of time was about 5 minutes before his father’s unconscious body was spotted at the bottom of the pool.

“It’s just very hard to believe that a man is struggling and nobody is watching him,” he said. “He goes below the water for four and a half minutes and nobody is watching him.”

Ajay Goenka said his father is survived by two daughters and his wife. They are preparing for his funeral and “trying to get over the shock that our family has gone through, and praying that we find the answers.”

“What we are going through, no other family should do the same,” he said.

Wright believes there were not enough lifeguards on duty for the amount of people who were swimming.

“There were two pools and it looked like one lifeguard was lifeguarding two pools,” he said. “It looks like they should’ve seen him. This was a tragedy that should’ve been able to have been prevented.”

In his prepared statement, Brunner said a lot of effort is put into creating a safe environment and protecting patrons at Dayton YMCA’s facilities.

“The safety and security of all members, families, visitors, and volunteers is the highest priority for all employees at the Xenia YMCA and at all YMCA’s of Greater Dayton,” Brunner said. “The YMCA places great attention and energy on providing communities with a safe environment, and we will do our utmost to protect everyone at our facilities.”

The YMCA of Greater Dayton was one of three defendants in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of 3-year-old Tyree Dukes, who drowned at an aquatic center in Huber Heights in 2012, according to Montgomery County court records.

The toddler was found floating in the pool and several lifeguards performed CPR in an effort to save the child, who was pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital.

That case was resolved in February 2015 when the Dukes’ family attorney, J. Pierre Tismo, dismissed the complaint with prejudice, according to court records. The defendants in the case were to pay court costs, but further details were not available Thursday.

Wright said he was not allowed to record the surveillance video, adding that he wants to review it in more detail before determining what’s next for the Goenka family.

“We have to make sure that there are sufficient lifeguards in place, that there’s sufficient training and that they do their job,” Wright said.

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