Mom blames lifeguards in son’s drowning at water park, TX suit says. Now she’s charged

The mother of a 3-year-old boy who drowned at a Texas water park is now behind bars, officials say.

Jessica Weaver, 35, was arrested in Indiana by the U.S. Marshals Service on Aug. 29, according to a Sept. 5 news release from the city of El Paso.

Weaver is charged with injury to a child by omission, the release said.

The charge stems from an incident in May when Weaver took her son, Anthony Malave, to El Paso’s Camp Cohen Water Park where he drowned, Weaver’s attorney, Ryan S. MacLeod, said in a Sept. 6 news release.

Weaver filed a lawsuit against the city of El Paso and ASM Global, the entertainment company the city hired to run the water park, about a month after her son’s death, the release said.

“After the lawsuit was filed, Ms. Weaver’s counsel was informed by counsel for the City of El Paso that the El Paso District Attorney’s Office might pursue criminal charges against Ms. Weaver for the death of her only child,” MacLeod said in the release.

He said that was the last they heard about charges until Aug. 29, “when over a dozen law enforcement officers stormed into an Indiana home yelling at Ms. Weaver and claiming she was a ‘fugitive from justice.’”

MacLeod said the lifeguards and the city are responsible for the child’s death.

“If the City and the DA had any interest whatsoever in seeking justice for Anthony and holding the responsible parties accountable, the DA would be pursuing charges against the 17 lifeguards and the water park officials who were ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety of the water park guests,” he said in the release.

ASM Global did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Sept. 7. The city told the El Paso Times that it “does not comment on pending litigation.”

During a Sept. 5 news conference shared by KFOX14, District Attorney Bill Hicks announced the charge against Weaver. He said she did not properly care for her child and that ultimately led to his death, the outlet reported.

“There are numerous witnesses that have come forward who have given their account that they were there at the park, they were watching, and they saw her not paying attention to her child,” Hicks said during the conference. “It’s posted in numerous places over the water park that any child younger than 6 years old needs to be attended at the park ... and she wasn’t doing that.”

However, in the news release, MacLeod listed several reasons he said the city and lifeguards are to blame. He said the city deleted video footage that could have shown the drowning, no outside flotation devices could be brought in the water park that day, and the 17 lifeguards on duty were all hired with “no experience required.”

“A lifeguard is not a babysitter,” Hicks said in the news conference, according to KFOX14. “A lifeguard is there as the last resort in hopefully saving a life.”

“The lifeguards, literally 17 around the Camp Cohen water park, while not babysitters, clearly did not know how to perform their jobs as lifeguards and had zero clue how to perform medical life-saving measures after Anthony was pulled from the pool,” MacLeod said in the news release.

Weaver is in an Indiana jail awaiting extradition back to El Paso. Her bond is set at $100,000.

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