The parents of a competitive swimmer who drowned last year at Beaver Dam Swim Club have filed a $6 million lawsuit against the club, alleging it was an hour before a lifeguard initiated a search for the woman.
Marilyn Jean Eben and Terry Dickson Eben filed the suit Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court - one day after another person drowned at the popular Cockeysville quarry.
"Someone has to do something to close this place; it is just too dangerous," said Marilyn Eben, a resident of Abingdon. "My daughter was an experienced swimmer, and look what happened to her; think of all the mediocre, average swimmers out there. They do not have a chance."
Mark P. Hanley, a Towson attorney who owns the swim club, called the suit "totally ridiculous."
"I don't think there is any truth to any of that," he said, referring to allegations that the lifeguard waited too long to act.
Jamee Eben, 24, of Columbia, was swimming with her boyfriend and two other friends July 2, 2000, when she paused to adjust her bathing suit and went under in about 40 feet of water. Eben had been a competitive swimmer since the age of 5 and had been captain of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County swim team, her mother said yesterday.
According to the suit, Eben's friends immediately alerted a lifeguard that Eben was missing, but the guard "ignored ... pleas for assistance." The lifeguard, the suit alleges, instead had Eben's friends page her on the public address system.
No one began searching the water for Eben until an hour after she was reported missing, the lawsuit claims.
Hanley said the club's lifeguards follow established procedures when someone is reported missing. But he said the lifeguard was not told where Ebens went down, making a rescue unlikely in the quarry's deep waters.
Hanley also pointed to Eben's autopsy, which said traces of pain medication in her body "would have caused Jamee to be drowsy and may explain her predisposition to drowning."
On Wednesday, Frederick Elijah Kearse, 20, of Chester in Queen Anne's County, became the fourth person to drown at the club in just over four years.
Hanley said the quarry was never meant to be a place for inexperienced swimmers.
"There are many signs around that warn people it is very deep," he said. "We do everything we can to keep it safe."