'Completely preventable': Father of 4-year-old who drowned at Moody Gardens Hotel files lawsuit

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Tuesday, July 18, 2023
4-year-old drowns in pool at Moody Gardens Hotel, Galveston PD says
The Galveston Police Department said it's investigating a drowning of a 4-year-old boy at the Moody Gardens Hotel Saturday.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the popular tourist attraction Moody Gardens by Matthew Rayburn, the father of a 4-year-old boy who drowned at the hotel pool on July 1.

The video above is from the initial report.

The lawsuit claims gross negligence that resulted in Asher Rayburn's death, who was found at the bottom of the hotel pool that evening.

ORIGINAL STORY: Galveston officials investigating 4-year-old boy's drowning at Moody Gardens Hotel pool

According to officials, at about 9:30 p.m., witnesses pulled the child from the pool and performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.

He was taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he was pronounced dead the following morning, just days before his 5th birthday.

Asher was on a birthday trip with his parents from Paris, Texas, and they were guests at the time of the incident.

"This is the kind of tragedy that no parent or family can ever be ready for," attorney Ryan Zehl, who is representing the Rayburn family, said. "What makes this situation even more horrific is that it was completely preventable had the hotel taken even the most basic precautions."

RELATED: Child dies at hospital after falling into pool in north Harris County neighborhood, Pct. 4 says

According to the suit, no hotel staff was on duty to monitor the pool at the time of the drowning, and it is unclear how long the 4-year-old was underwater before being found.

The suit claims several misdoings by the hotel, such as failing to monitor the pool and adequately train the employees, as well as failing to intervene promptly, take immediate action, and not have the proper safety equipment, policies, and procedures.

Asher's father is seeking $1 million in damages.

Moody Gardens hasn't directly responded to the litigation, but representatives offered this statement shortly after the incident:

"The management and staff at Moody Gardens are devastated by this tragic event and have been working with the authorities as they conduct their investigation to understand the circumstances that led to this incident. Moody Gardens' President/CEO, John Zendt requests the support and prayers of the community for the family during this incredibly difficult time."