On July 14, 2007, 16-year-old Eric Jones went to the city of Springfield’s public beach with his brother and cousins. The public beach is located on Lake Springfield. Eric did not know how to swim. He was in the water at least chest-deep when he disappeared beneath the surface. His relatives, brother and cousins did not report him missing for an unknown number of minutes. The nearest lifeguard had not noticed Eric’s disappearance.
As soon as the lifeguards were notified, they began searching the lake for Eric. It took several minutes to find him in the opaque water. They were unable to resuscitate him.
Eric was survived by his mother and brother. The family filed a lawsuit arguing that the city lifeguards violated the city’s internal guidelines regarding where the lifeguards would be located, chose not to immediately form a line search in the area where Eric was last seen, and were guilty of willful and wanton misconduct for those failures. It was alleged in conclusion that the city’s actions or inactions were the cause of Eric’s drowning death.