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Pool company president charged in boy's death

/ Source: The Associated Press

A swimming pool company president was charged Monday with manslaughter in connection with the drowning of a 6-year-old boy whose arm was trapped by the suction of a powerful drain pump.

Shoreline Pools President David Lionetti was released on $25,000 bail.

Police in Greenwich said Lionetti, 53, of Stamford, "recklessly caused the death" of Zachary Cohn by failing to have his company install mandated safety devices in the pool the company built for the boy's family. Police alleged the safety devices would have prevented the boy's death.

Since 1985, more than 150 cases have been reported around the country of swimming pool drain entrapments, leading to at least 48 deaths and many serious injuries, including disembowelment, of children and adults, according to a lawsuit filed by Zachary's parents.

Lionetti plans to plead not guilty, said his attorney, Richard Meehan Jr. "To my knowledge this is the first time an executive from a pool company has been prosecuted for homicide for claimed code violations in the installation of a pool," Meehan said.

Meehan declined to comment on the issue of safety devices, saying he had not seen the arrest affidavit yet.

Police said Zachary Cohn drowned when his arm became stuck in an intake valve in the deep end of the family's in-ground pool on July 26, 2007. Water entering the intake valve is pumped through filters before being returned to the pool.

The family's lawsuit, filed in January, alleged the pool violated safety code requirements designed in response to the rash of similar cases around the country.

Lionetti's arrest came three days after fire destroyed the company's Stamford warehouse. Thirteen police officers were treated for chemical exposure. The cause of the fire had not yet been determined Monday.