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San Luis Obispo, California

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Ray Mattison
Ray Mattison
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Mysterious P.E. Class Pool Drowning Claims Life of Atascadero High School Student

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     During a game of “bucketball”, 17 year old Junior, John Erlanson, was discovered unconscious in the shallow end of the school pool.  As an attorney who has handled many cases involving the wrongful death of children, I have yet to meet a parent in this situation who has not said: “I would gladly trade my life for his if it would bring him back.” 

   According to his sister, Casey, John was the youngest of four and the only male. He grew up in Atascadero and loved the Central Coast. He planned to go to Cuesta College and transfer to Cal Poly, the State University in San Luis Obispo County.

    How John drowned in a pool with 30 other students present during a supervised class is a mystery, a story well covered by the local paper, the Tribune.

    The Center for Disease Control says an average of 6 people drown each day.  Drowning is the 4th leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.  Out of the 4000 annual casualties, one third are children under the age of 14. 

     Many of these tragic events are preventable and cause pool operators to change their practices.  Often actionable negligence is involved and litigation ensues.  

     5,000 children under 14 are hospitalized for near drownings each year.  Of those 15% die in the hospital and about 20% suffer permanent neurological disability.         

     The Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention and other organizations have great and proven techniques which would at least reduce the number of these tragedies (for every fatal drowning four are hospitalized).