1. Archive

Pool's renters, owners sued over 1992 drowning of boy, 2

The parents of a 2-year-old boy who drowned in a residential swimming pool in March 1992 have filed a lawsuit against the renters, owners and leasing agent of the property where the pool was located.

Aaron Kershaw's body was found at the bottom of a murky swimming pool at 71 Orange Valley Lane in Dade City on March 8, 1992, according to sheriff's reports.

His parents, John and Cheryl Kershaw, had traveled from Biloxi, Mich., to visit Fred and Doris Johns, who were renting the home. After Kershaw noticed his son was missing, he searched 40 minutes, then called the Sheriff's Office, according to reports.

About an hour later, sheriff's divers found Aaron's body, dressed in camouflage T-shirt and diaper, at the bottom of the pool's deep end. Because the water was murky, the pool bottom could not be seen from the surface.

The Kershaws are listed as plantiffs in the wrongful death suit against the property owners, Dominga Pichardo and Yolando Reyes; the leasing agent, Hauff Realty; and Fred and Doris Johns.

The suit alleges numerous negligent acts by the defendants, including that the pool was an "attractive nuisance" to the toddler, that the pool was not properly maintained and that the pool lacked several necessary safety features.

The plaintiffs are asking for more than $15,000 to cover medical and funeral expenses and to compensate for mental pain and suffering.

The Johns no longer live at the Dade City home, Doris Johns said Wednesday. She said she and her husband still are "real good friends" with the Kershaws and knew a suit would be filed, but she said she did not know they were named as defendants until told Wednesday by a Times reporter.

"I was totally in the dark that we were named in the suit," she said. "The last time I talked to (Cheryl Kershaw), about a week ago, she said the lawyer had talked about putting us in the lawsuit, but she told us there was no chance she was going to allow that."

Doris Johns said the Kershaws have said they do not hold her or her husband responsible for the child's death.