The family of a 12-year-old Pickerington boy who drowned in July at the Round Lake Christian Camp in Lakeville has sued the camp and several staff members for wrongful death.
Solomon and Regina Aborbie, the parents of Melvin Aborbie, filed the suit Dec. 26 in Summit County Common Pleas Court. Melvin Aborbie died on July 25 after drowning at the camp. He was participating in a four-day residential basketball program for sixth- to eighth-grade boys, according to the court filing.
The lawsuit names the Round Lake Christian Assembly, as well as six employees of the camp, as defendants. The camp employees named in the lawsuit are residents of Summit, Delaware, Knox, Holmes and Wayne counties.
Lance Powers, the camp’s manager, did not respond to a request for comment.
The Aborbie family is seeking more than $25,000 in damages for each of the two counts in the civil complaint, for a total of more than $50,000. The lawsuit also seeks an unspecified amount in punitive damages, and “further relief” as the trial court “may deem just and equitable.” The family has requested a jury trial in the case, according to the complaint.
Elyria-based attorney Romney Cullers is representing the Aborbie family. In a written statement, Cullers said attorneys will continue to investigate the details surrounding Melvin Aborbie’s death.
“Our objective is to hold all responsible parties accountable,” Cullers said.
The lawsuit states that Melvin's death was a direct result of the “negligent, reckless, willful and wanton” conduct of the camp and its employees named in the filing. As a result, the Aborbie family has “suffered considerable mental anguish, pain and suffering,” the lawsuit states.
Officials at the time of Melvin's death said lifeguards were on duty when he drowned.
“They saw him go into the water, but did not see him come back up,” Ashland County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Carl Richert said in July. “… They went into action after he did not return to the surface after he went in.”
Jenny Taylor, an Ashland County coroner’s investigator, said officials believed Melvin was taking a swim test when he drowned.
“He was given a thumbs-up that it was time to go for his swimming test,” Taylor said in July. “He then jumped in, but did not resurface and lifeguards jumped in.”
On July 25, first responders were called to the camp, located near state Routes 3 and 179 on the Ashland-Holmes county line, at 3:58 p.m. A dive team recovered Melvin's body at 5:23 p.m., Richert said.
The camp, in a written statement on the night of July 25, said it was cooperating with the investigation into Melvin's death.
“Our staff is grieving with the family,” Powers said in July. “It’s a tragic situation.”
The lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Alison Breaux. No hearings have been scheduled yet, court records show.
Reporter Jack Rooney can be reached at 330-287-1645 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is on Twitter at twitter.com/RooneyReports.