Parents file lawsuit against HOA after 13-year-old son with autism drowns in neighborhood pool

A couple whose son died last week in a Friendswood neighborhood pool has filed a lawsuit against the facility’s owners and managers.

The Heritage Park Village Homeowners Association and two management companies, Houston Community Management Services Inc. and Associa Living Inc., are named as defendants in court documents, which allege that the facility owners and managers contributed to the juvenile’s death.

Court documents allege the defendants were aware of a gap in the pool’s perimeter fence -- a problem that had gone unrepaired for several years.

Residents and children used the gap to enter the pool area after hours, court documents say.

“Defendants had a duty to use ordinary care to keep land known to be subject to the trespasses of young children free from artificial conditions that involve an unreasonable risk of death or bodily harm,” court documents read.

Gap in the metal fence (Court documents)
Gap in the fence (Court documents)

The couple’s son J.R. left his Friendswood home around 2 a.m. It is believed that J.R., who had autism and could not swim, used a step ladder to climb up and through the gap in the metal fence to gain access to the 75-foot-long recreation and lap pool in the early morning hours of Aug. 5, according to court documents.

The boy was found dead at the bottom of the pool at approximately 8 a.m. Paramedics pronounced him deceased shortly after pulling him from the water, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

RELATED: 13-year-old boy with disability found dead in Friendswood neighborhood pool, HCSO says

According to court documents, J.R. lived in the Heritage Park Village his whole life and passed the Quillback Park pool each day on his way home. When J.R. did visit the pool, he was always accompanied by an adult or older family member.

Family members told investigators that J.R. loved the water and tried to visit the pool quite often. Though he did not know how to swim, he enjoyed spending time with his friends and watching them play in the pool.

“This is a tragedy that should not have happened,” the family’s attorney Derek Potts of Potts Law Firm said in a statement. “It happened because the association and these companies chose to look the other way rather than making sensible, minor repairs. Property owners have to be aware of the dangers of swimming pools and provide reasonable protections for the public. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this case.”

The Potts Law Firm filed a temporary restraining order to ensure that all parties involved in the suit do not destroy any evidence relevant to the case.


About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.