6-year-old's drowning death at Altadena camp spurs lawsuit, calls for legislative action

ByAmy Powell and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Drowning at Altadena camp spurs suit, call for new laws
The drowning of a 6-year-old girl at an Altadena summer camp has led to a lawsuit from her parents and calls for better regulations of camps.

ALTADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Photos and videos of Roxie a happy, funny 6-year-old, are helping her parents cope with the pain of her death.

Roxie was attending Summerkids Camp in Altadena last June when she drowned in the camp's pool.

"Roxie had this amazing energy about her," said Elena Matyas, Roxie's mother.

The heartbreaking scene at the hospital where their little girl died is locked in their memories.

"What about all the other babies? If this can happen to Roxie this can happen to anybody," said Matyas.

"Kids don't drown themselves. Ultimately adults are accountable," said Doug Forbes, Roxie's father.

Matyas and Forbes said operators of Summerkids Camp claim there were five counselors supervising the pool at the time. They hold the camp responsible for Roxie's death and they're concerned about the safety of other kids.

"What the camp then did is cover up the facts and consequences of this drowning," said Forbes.

After launching an investigation, the California Department of Social Services cited Summerkids Camp for operating a child day care facility without a license.

In a statement, Summerkids Camp said: "Under California law organized camps are exempt from certain regulations concerning child care licensing. As soon as we learned of this issue, which involves just a small portion of our camp operations, Summerkids Camp took immediate action to address the matter with relevant authorities."

Roxie's family has filed a lawsuit.

"We need to stand up for Roxie and for the millions of other Roxies in this state that attend camps without proper supervision," Matyas said.

The family is working with a state lawmaker on new licensing laws for camps.