$650,000 settlement in Boys’ Club pool drowning

By Jon Schmitz
Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The parents of a 12-year-old boy who drowned at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club pool in Shadyside last year have agreed to a $650,000 settlement of their wrongful death claim.

Howard Jarea Jennings, who could not swim and was partially disabled by a birth injury, was found in the deep end of the pool July 18. An official said it was the first fatal accident in the 100-year history of the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.

Jennings apparently entered the deep water while playing a game in which children were tossing a pair of goggles into the pool and retrieving them. Two lifeguards who were on duty did not spot him in time.

The settlement was approved Wednesday by Common Pleas Judge Robert A. Kelly. “Jarea was a wonderful young man and he came from a wonderful family. No amount of money can ever compensate the family for their loss,” said Neil Rosen attorney for the parents, Howard E. Jennings and Chuan R. Williams.

Rosen’s firm, Kapetan Meyers Rosen & Raizman, will get one-third of the settlement amount.

“A very unfortunate chapter in our history is coming to a close,” said Mike Hepler, president and chief executive officer of the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs.

Hepler said the pool was in compliance with regulations on lifeguard staffing, water clarity and the number of swimmers in the pool at the time of the accident.

He said a grate at the bottom of the deep end, which may have camouflaged Jennings’ presence, has been repainted in a striped pattern.

“For so many years, we’ve been extraordinarily successful in providing a positive and safe place for children. This is something we want to make sure never happens again,” Hepler said.