Nearly a year after 4-year-old Yoni Gottesman drowned in a swimming pool at the Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office announced there was “insufficient basis” to file criminal charges in the case. The decision – which was publicly released at a press conference last Thursday – was an outrage to the boy’s family and their lawyer Barry Cappello. According to the victim’s father, Oded Gottesman, the family plans to file an appeal and bring a civil suit against the Goleta-based athletic club and those on pool duty when the boy drowned. At the root of their argument is an approximately 7-minute security video showing Yoni lying motionless on the surface of the water just a few feet from the lifeguard, camp counselors, and swim instructors. The prosecution also points out that the summer program Yoni was attending was not properly permitted. Though he refused to comment on a potential civil suit, DA Tom Sneddon offered that the lifeguard “may have been inattentive and may not have done the job he was supposed to have done,” but it didn’t amount to criminal negligence.
Originally published 12:00 p.m., July 20, 2006
Updated 11:08 a.m., August 10, 2006
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