FALL RIVER, Mass. – Two former Massachusetts state workers are set to face criminal charges after they allowed a dirty swimming pool to stay open while a woman’s body lay at the bottom. On June 26, the water in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Pool in Fall River, Mass., 45 miles south of Boston, was so murky dirty that 36-year-old Marie Joseph’s body sat at the bottom for two days after she drowned.
Joseph, a mother of five and Haitian immigrant, hit her head after coming down a waterslide and bumping into a 9-year-old boy, passed out and drowned. It was reported that the boy went to tell a lifeguard she had fallen into the pool, but was ignored.
Her body remained, undetected, in the cloudy, 12-foot deep water until it was found by two teens that were trespassing in after hours. Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter announced the charges yesterday following an investigation into the Joseph’s death.
Former Department of Conservation and Recreation employees, Regional Director Brian Shanahan and District Manager Jeff Carter will be charged with reckless child endangerment charges after allowing the pool to remain open. On Nov. 8, a judge originally ruled that Shanahan and Carter would not face criminal charges, but another judge said on Wednesday probable cause exists to warrant charges.
“We believe strongly in the evidence we compiled in these two cases and we will continue to pursue these charges,” said Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter. “We now have several options with respect to how we pursue these charges and we will consider which one of these options to choose over the next few days.”
An investigation showed visibility in the pool was only four feet, well below public health standards. Sutter said the day after her body was found, state police divers in the pool found a substantial amount of debris at the bottom of the pool, including hair ribbons, leaves and jewelry.
Sutter said staff told investigators the pool wasn’t vacuumed before it opened for the season because a vacuum wasn’t working. An official arraignment date has not been set.