Town Settles in Drain Drowning

September 27, 2001

Bolingbrook (IL) has agreed to pay $2.8 million to the family of a6-year-old boy who drowned when he was drawn into a drainage pipe in 1998.


Michael Mahoney, a lawyer representing the family of Mark Fornek, said the figure reflected that the village "recognizes the loss to the family and their responsibility [for Mark's death]."


"We hope something good comes out of this [case]," Mark's father, Gregory, said Wednesday. "We hope other towns take a look at their storm-drainage systems for the potential dangers to children, and anyone for that matter."


Mark drowned Aug. 4, 1998, after being swept a half mile through a rain-swollen storm drain behind a house in the 900 block of Wescott Road in the Heritage Creek subdivision.


Bolingbrook Village Administrator James Boan said Wednesday that the village decided to settle the suit on the advice of its insurance company.


"We have a lot of sympathy for what the parents have had to go through," Boan said.


At the time of the drowning, residents in Heritage Creek said they had complained to village officials for months about the ferocious vortexes that swirl at the pipe's opening, particularly during heavy rainfalls.


The day after Mark drowned, the village installed a grate over the pipe through which the boy had been pulled.


Bolingbrook's code does not call for a grate over 12-inch pipe, and Boan said Wednesday the village has no plans to require grates on that size of pipe.


The family's wrongful death suit, filed in February 1999 in Will County, contended the village failed to cover the storm drain, failed to remedy the dangerous condition of the storm drain and failed to respond to warnings about the dangers of the storm drain.


Police said Mark and two friends were playing in late afternoon with toy boats in a pool of water that had collected behind their homes during the day's downpour. Police said the boys were playing in about three feet of water.


Officials speculated Mark got into deeper water closer to the pipe's opening, where a rapid vortex was developing. The force pulled the boy under and sucked him into the 12-inch pipe. The current carried Mark one-half mile through the pipe, which snakes through the subdivision.


The pipe, which widens to 40 feet in diameter, empties into a detention pond at Heritage Park in the southern end of the subdivision, where his body was found.

Source:

Chicago Tribune

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