Victorian Swim School Fined After Leaving Girl Quadriplegic
A Victorian swim school company has been fined $150,000 after a 12-year-old girl was told to dive into a pool that was too shallow, leaving her a quadriplegic.
Milly Yeoman was among other grade 6 students in the learner pool at Swim and Survival Academy in Ballarat when she suffered the "catastrophic" lifelong injury in November 2016.
Children routinely dived into the pool's northern end, but the water depth was below the minimum 1.5 metres recommended for diving.
Milly was also much taller and heavier than most girls her age, and the academy should have been aware of this.
"She went straight down, hitting her head on the tile floor of the learner pool," County Court Judge Paul Lacava said on Thursday.
"She sadly suffered spinal injury, rendering her quadriplegic for life."
The swim academy's owners, De Kort Enterprises, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the girl was not exposed to risk.
De Kort was convicted and fined on Thursday over the "tragic" accident, which could have been avoided if a proper safety assessment had been done.
Judge Lacava said the girl's life, and that of her parents and brother, had been "turned upside down by this tragedy".
"The impact is immense, touching upon almost every aspect of their everyday life," he said.
The company's directors, Rob and Julie De Kort, have spoken of their sincere regret and remorse for what happened in a statement to the court.
"And they speak of the steps they have taken to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again," Judge Lacava said.
The judge said a "significant" fine was needed to send a message that children must be protected at swim schools.
"This is a serious example of what is a serious offence," he said.
"The risks of diving into shallow water are regrettably well known.
"Grade 6 school children cannot be expected to fully understand that risk and so the academy had to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect them."