Felony charges lowered for YMCA and employee

Posted at 6:55 PM, Oct 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-20 21:55:09-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - At a Friday afternoon sentencing hearing, a San Diego judge lowered felony counts against the YMCA and one of its employees.


In 2015, a chemical leak in the pool equipment at a Santee YMCA sent a hazardous plume to nearby Rio Seco Elementary School, sickening more than 80 children and adults. The YMCA and its employee had pleaded guilty to charges related to the chemical spill.


The attorneys for both the employee and the YMCA argued they’ve made extreme efforts to change and enhance their safety plans and procedures since it happened. “The YMCA is changing its entire culture and organization to try to respond and provide better aquatic safety inside the pool [and] through the entire organization,” said defense attorney Paul Pfingst.


RELATED: Lawsuits filed over YMCA Chemical Spill


The prosecution argued that lowering the felony charges would be insufficient.


Deputy District Attorney Betsy McClutchey told the courtroom, “Not only did they have historic violations but they were still having violations a month, month and a half and two months after this horrific event which you would’ve thought would’ve opened their eyes, but it didn't open their eyes well enough.”


The judge ruled to lower all counts to misdemeanors. The YMCA will have to pay about $17,000 in fines and the employee will have to pay about $6,000 in fines.


Both will be on probation where they’ll be subject to additional safety checks and training.