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Father won't sign deal in drowning suit

September 28, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

The father of a girl who drowned at the Hagerstown YMCA two years ago said Tuesday he has refused to sign the paperwork completing the out-of-court agreement settling a lawsuit against the YMCA and Girls Inc.

"I feel I need to stick to my guns," said Lloyd Pearson Jr., whose daughter, Kari Trumpower, died in the swimming accident.

It is unclear how Pearson's action will affect the lawsuit, since he verbally agreed to the settlement last week.

Leonard A. Orman, one of Pearson's lawyers, declined to comment other than to say, "The case is settled. That's all I can tell you."

Kari Trumpower was 7 when she drowned while participating in a swimming outing sponsored by the youth group Girls Inc. at the YMCA's indoor pool in September 1997.

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Pearson and the girl's mother, Karen Trumpower, filed a wrongful death suit against the YMCA and Girls Inc. last December.

Pearson said the total amount of the settlement, $750,000, was fair.

But he said the YMCA agreed to only one of his three demands, erecting a plaque in his daughter's honor.

Pearson also wanted the YMCA to match his donation to a trust fund in Kari's name to teach children how to swim at public pools. He also wanted the resignation of Michael Flicek, the YMCA's executive director.

Pearson said he had been under pressure for months from Karen Trumpower to settle the lawsuit, and relented last week.

But he said he changed his mind on Tuesday because the written documents did not reflect his understanding of the agreement.

Pearson said he never agreed not to discuss the matter with the press, as the settlement mandates, and disagreed with how the legal fees would be collected.

Pearson said he still has too many questions about his daughter's death and the way the investigation was handled.

Why did it take more than a year after his daughter's death for the Hagerstown City Police to release its report to the public, he asked.

Pearson said he also has not been adequately told how the drowning occurred.

Pearson said he feels he owes it to his daughter to continue his pursuit.

"I feel partly responsible for what happened because I couldn't be there for her. I have to live with that the rest of my life," he said. "I just don't feel that I've done enough."

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