Lawsuits filed over YMCA Chemical Spill

Posted at 7:39 PM, Oct 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-19 22:39:13-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Children and adults were rushed from an East San Diego County school to the hospital almost two years ago and now some of the former patients are suing the YMCA of San Diego County and an employee over the incident.

More than 80 adults and children were evaluated during the emergency at Rio Seco Elementary school in Santee in October 2015.

Duane McFarland told Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin his son said his skin and mouth were burning and he was having trouble breathing.

“He still gets dizzy every once in a while,” McFarland said. “He still gets short of breath.”

At the time, investigators said the problem was caused by a chemical spill at the YMCA near the school.

According to two lawsuits filed, the YMCA and an employee disposed of hazardous waste by pumping spilled sodium hypochlorite, into a storm drain. It says thereafter attempted to use another chemical, which was in conflict with the labeling, to try and neutralize the spill.

The lawsuit claims the move created a chemical vapor plume that floated over to the school.

Team 10 discovered a criminal complaint filed against the YMCA of San Diego County and the facilities employee Lee Joseph Ladley outlining felony and misdemeanor charges including hazardous waste disposal and failure to report the release of hazardous materials.

“I just want to see that this doesn’t happen again,” McFarland told Team 10.

The YMCA of San Diego County tells Team 10 it sincerely regrets the accident that occurred in October 2015 and the resulting impact on the community and the environment.

In a statement, a spokesperson said “The safety of children, members, staff and volunteers are of the utmost importance and the number one priority at any YMCA of San Diego County facility. We are proud of and deeply respect the trust people place in the YMCA. Like many organizations, the YMCA of San Diego County does not comment on pending litigation until it is fully resolved.”

Both parties will be in court Friday for a sentencing hearing for the criminal charges.

According to the lawsuit, the YMCA of San Diego County and Ladley were convicted of multiple felonies and misdemeanors due to their conduct causing the incident.

Team 10 reached out to the district attorney’s office for comment, they said since the case is still open they cant comment.