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Parents File $8-Million Claim in Hoover Drowning

November 05, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

The parents of a Hoover High School student who drowned during a school swimming class have filed an $8-million negligence claim against the Glendale Unified School District.

The claim by Manuel and Alice Kupelian blames the school district, Hoover High School, Athletic Director Dorance Kohlmeier and school nurse Sylvia Lofftus for the Sept. 22 death of their son Danny, 16.

The Kupelians also are seeking unspecified damages for medical and burial costs.

School district officials denied the Oct. 22 claim at a school board meeting Tuesday night. Under law, the Kupelians have six months to file a lawsuit.

The Kupelians contend that the district hired incompetent personnel to supervise the swimming class; that Kohlmeier and Lofftus failed to use proper life-saving techniques; that they waited too long to help the teen-ager and that they failed to get help properly or promptly.

The Kupelians' attorney, Gerald D. Raphael, said "a mistake was made" when Kohlmeier, who was coaching the class, refused to let students give Danny cardiopulmonary resuscitation and did not administer CPR himself.

"He sent for the nurse and she apparently began administering CPR," Raphael said. "Whether she administered it incorrectly, I don't know."

School district officials refused to comment on the case.

Danny was finishing a 100-yard warm-up swim when he suffered a seizure, lost consciousness and sank.

Kohlmeier saw Danny lose consciousness and told students to pull him from the pool, school district spokesman Vic Pallos said on the day of the drowning. Pallos said rescue officials were called as Lofftus administered CPR.

An autopsy by the Los Angeles County Coroner's office showed that a cyst on Danny's brain triggered the seizure. He was pronounced dead about 1 1/2 hours later at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

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