Wrongful death lawsuit filed after boy drowns during rowing practice at Lake Fairview in Orlando

The family of a 12-year-old boy who drowned on Lake Fairview in Florida after the team's boat capsized during rowing practice filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Rowing Association and the local rowing club alleging the club did not have effective weather detection systems to predict poor weather nearby, and did not have a working defibrillator.

The lawsuit – which names Power Ten Rowing Club, North Orlando Rowing Club, College Park Lions Club, and U.S. Rowing Association as defendants – also claims that the coaches and staff at North Orlando Rowing failed to properly train the boy, failed to conduct a proper swim test, failed to adjust for the incoming weather, and did not have a way to communicate with the children about the weather once out on the lake, among other allegations.

Two boys died after their rowing boat capsized on Sept. 15, 2022, potentially the result of a lightning strike nearby. Three others were in the boat, but unharmed, officials previously told FOX 35.

According to the lawsuit, the boy was pulled from the water and taken to shore. He was revived and taken to the hospital, where he died three days later on what would have been his 12th birthday, the lawsuit said.

The body of a second boy was recovered by officials the following day.

The boy's family said he joined the team a week prior and was a "true beginner."

On Sept. 15, 2022, he was assigned the role of coxswain, which controls the steering of the boat and controls the team, a role he had never performed and was not trained, the lawsuit states.

"On September 15, 2022, it was foreseeable that weather, including lightning, and resulting turbulent water would pose a hazard, potentially fatal, to child rowers," the lawsuit states. "North Orlando knew or should have known that the weather conditions and resulting conditions were hazardous and dangerous to rowers."

FOX 35 has reached out to U.S. Rowing and North Orlando Rowing for comment on the lawsuit.

In a statement shortly after the incident, U.S. Rowing said in a news release that it was "deeply saddened" to learn about the tragic event, and that it was in close contact with the club and authorities who were investigating what happened.

North Orlando Rowing said in a Facebook post in September that it was broken-hearted and devastated over the boys' deaths and was working on supporting their families and staff, as well as working with authorities on the investigation. 

The family demanded a jury trial for unspecified damages.