Man Pulled From YMCA Pool Was Under Water for 5 Minutes: Suit

He had been swimming laps when he suffered heart pain and collapsed underwater, the family's attorney said

A man who was pulled out of a suburban YMCA pool was under water for more than five minutes despite two lifeguards being on-duty at the time, a new lawsuit alleges.

The suit, filed Thursday by the family of the 61-year-old man, claims lifeguards at the Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles ignored Yosef Bornstein under water before he was finally discovered unconscious at the bottom of the pool in May.

The family’s attorney said Bornstein was a longtime member and regular swimmer at the pool. He had been swimming laps when he suffered heart pain and collapsed underwater.

Video from security cameras shows two lifeguards nearby for several minutes before another swimmer discovers Bornstein at the bottom of the pool.

“It is a miracle, he is alive after being underwater so long but he has a difficult recovery ahead of him,” his attorney Timothy J. Cavanagh said in a statement. “This accident never should have happened. The swimming pool was not crowded at the time and the two lifeguards had a clear view of Mr. Bornstein. Lifeguards need to properly trained, supervised and must do their jobs.”

The YMCA of Metro Chicago said in a statement both lifeguards were put on administrative leave and a “disciplinary review is underway.”

“Our hearts go out to the family of Yosef Bornstein and we wish him a full and swift recovery,” the statement read. “We want to assure all members that their health and safety is of primary importance. That’s why, as is our custom, we promptly started our own fact-finding process after this incident.

The organization also said it is reviewing its staffing and procedures, lifeguard training and certification review policies.

Attorneys said Thursday that Bornstein, a retired teacher of Chinese science who lives in Evanston, was released from the hospital Wednesday and can talk but was experiencing memory issues.

“My father loved swimming at the Leaning Tower YMCA. The fact that lifeguards could show such disregard for his safety is beyond belief and the consequences are devastating,” Elisha Bornstein, Yosef’s son, said in a statement. “My father and the other swimmers at the Leaning Tower YMCA deserve much better.”

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