Attorney Barry Cappello filed a wrongful death claim against the City of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Sailing Center on behalf of the family of Davies Kabogoza, the 30-year-old soccer star who drowned in the harbor six months ago.
One Saturday afternoon last April, Kabogoza, who was from Uganda, fell off his standup paddleboard, went under, and, except briefly, never came up again. His body was discovered 30 feet underwater. He could not swim but was wearing a belt flotation device that was not deployed, according to officials at the time.
“The City had a special duty based on its ownership of the harbor to ensure that the public was provided special care when renting equipment for water activities,” the claim reads. “… Both the city and [the Sailing Center] knew that the manual activation life belt issued to Kabogoza were typically worn incorrectly which created and/or made the risk of injury including drowning appreciably greater.”
The claim further alleges that the Sailing Center employee failed to ask Kabogoza if he could swim, instruct him on how to properly put on the flotation device, or advise him to wear a more appropriate device.
Cappello represents Agnes Mubanda, the mother of Kabogoza. The claim states damages are in excess of $25,000. Kabogoza was featured in a 2012 Independent article. He came to the United States seven years ago through the Sports Outreach Institute, an organization to help young athletes in underprivileged countries. He had attended Westmont College, where he played soccer and obtained a degree in kinesiology. He coached soccer at Santa Barbara City College and worked in a physical therapy office in Santa Barbara.
Representatives from the city and the Sailing Center were not immediately available for comment.