The family of an autistic, 21-year-old man who died after being found face-down in a hot tub at the Fallbrook YMCA in March has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

In the complaint filed in Lancaster County District Court this week, Semira Osman alleges her son, Samson Goitom, died because of the YMCA's negligence.

Goitom, 21, died March 22, two days after suffering a medical episode at the YMCA as he sat in a hot tub, according to his family.

Osman's attorney, Vince Powers, blamed the design of the Fallbrook facility, where a slide in the pool's deep end blocks the view of the hot tub from the lifeguard's post.

"The location of the hot tub was such that a person could walk from the locker room and enter into the hot tub and ... no lifeguard would know that anyone was using the hot tub," he wrote in the complaint.

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Further, Powers said, there had been complaints to YMCA staff about lifeguards using their laptops or cellphones rather than watching people in the pool and hot tub.

In March, Barb Bettin, CEO of the Lincoln YMCA, said an off-duty swim instructor was in the hot tub when Goitom was found face-down in the water. Lincoln police said the woman was looking in the other direction before Goitom was discovered. He was immediately taken out of the hot tub and was alive and responsive before being taken to a hospital.

He was taken off life support March 22.

In the lawsuit, Goitom's family is seeking health care and funeral expenses, plus compensation for the loss of his love, society, companionship and support and for Goitom's pain and suffering prior to his death.

Michael Moran, the attorney representing the YMCA, declined comment.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.


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