Family of 5-year-old who drowned files suit against Timberhill Athletic Club

Tomás Barreto Pizano, who was 5 years old at the time, died after he drowned in the outside pool of the Timberhill Athletic Club on June 18, 2018.

Posted: Feb 7, 2019 3:47 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2019 9:34 AM

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A Corvallis family is seeking $56.6 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Timberhill Athletic Club, the State of Oregon and Benton County.

Tomás Barreto Pizano, who was 5 years old at the time, died after he drowned in the outside pool of the Timberhill Athletic Club on June 18, 2018, while attending a summer camp put on by the club.

The lawsuit alleges multiple wrongdoings including that staff failed to provide the 5-year-old with a life vest even though they knew he couldn't swim and failed to properly supervise Barreto Pizano and the other children who were attending the camp.

The lawsuit claims the drowning was captured on security cameras, which show Barreto Pizano going down a waterslide and ending up in the pool with 7 inches of water above his head. The lawsuit states that in the video you can see the child struggling to breathe for close to four minutes as he gasps for air close to 100 times until he starts to float on top of the water face down.

The lawsuit states that 12 minutes after he got into the pool, a group of bystanders alerted staff to the child, but they were slow to respond. They claim staff first asked another child to help before one staff membered emptied out his pockets before going in to rescue him, but by that time a bystander had already dove in themselves.

Court documents state a staff member performed CPR on Barreto Pizano but did it wrong. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit also names Oregon Health Authority and Benton County Environmental Health for failing to enforce safety standards leading up to the tragedy. Attorneys for the family say state and county leaders should have suspended or revoked the club's outdoor pool license because the height of the slide and the distance to the water requires a certified lifeguard under state law, who the lawsuit alleges was not present.

An attorney for the Barreto Pizano family declined an interview and said the family is still devastated over the loss of their son.

KEZI 9 News reached out to Timberhill Athletic Club for comment. They asked us to reach out to their attorney, who has not yet returned our phone calls.

KEZI also reached to the Oregon Health Authority and a lawyer representing Benton County. Officials with the Oregon Health Authority said they cannot comment on pending litigation but offer their condolences to the Barreto Pizano family. We have not heard back from the county's lawyer at this time.

Below is the lawsuit in its entirety:

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