Attorney investigating drowning of a 4-year-old child at Splashville says he is being stonewalled.
An attorney that has been hired by the family of Colt Williams, the four-year-old child who drowned at Splashville in June, says the law firm representing the city of Stephenville is stonewalling his investigation.
Attorney Dustin Burrows with the Liggett Law Group in Lubbock told Beneath the Surface News that he has been retained by the Williams family to investigate what transpired at the water park on the night of June 24 when the child drowned during a private party.
“The Williams lost their son Colt, and have the right to investigate for themselves what happened that terrible day,” Burrows said. “I am honored to be representing them in this matter and performing my own investigation for the family.”
The city is being represented by the Fort Worth-based law firm of Taylor, Olson, Adkins, Sralla & Elam (TOASE).
In an email to TOASE’s Rachel Raggio on July 31, 2023, Burrows states that he has been retained by the family and asks for a chance to interview the waterpark managers and life guards that were on duty that night.
The following day, he received this response from TOASE’s Ashley Dierker:
“We have been engaged by the City of Stephenville to perform an investigation into the incident and once that is completed we will furnish a copy of our report to your attention. Pursuant to the request in your letter, the City declines to make lifeguard(s) and other city staff available for interview(s) and objects to you contacting any city staff directly.”
Burrows said he was shocked by the response, stating that it’s important that he get the chance to speak with Splashville’s staff while the memory is still fresh.
“In the interest of fairness and transparency, water park staff and management must be made available to the family's investigators,” he said.
Stephenville City Manager Jason King said the city council and staff were briefed about the exchange between the attorneys during a closed session on Tuesday.
“The city has engaged this law firm to perform an outside investigation into what happened that night and that’s what they are doing now,” King said. “We have asked them to give us the facts about what occurred and an investigative report will be made public.”
Burrows, who is also a Texas State Representative for District 83, chaired the Texas House committee that investigated the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two adults dead.
“The Williams should not be asked to simply trust that the Fort Worth law firm will perform a truly ‘independent’ investigation," Burrows said. "How can the family trust the report from an investigator who is also serving as the attorney for the investigated?”
Splashville remains closed and will not reopen until the investigation is complete.