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 December 13, 2023

Family of 5-year Old Child Who Drowned at YMCA Sues Company for $20M

In a heart-wrenching incident, a young life was cut tragically short.

Auston Wingo Jr., a 5-year-old boy, met a devastating end in the swimming pool of a YMCA facility in Pulaski County, Virginia. This occurrence has left the community in shock and sorrow.

On December 6, 2021, a normal day became a nightmare for the Wingo family. Auston was found unresponsive in the pool at the YMCA of Pulaski County. In a desperate attempt to save him, he was rushed to the hospital. However, the efforts were in vain, as he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Lawsuit Alleges Gross Negligence

Struck by grief, the Wingo family took legal action against the YMCA. They filed a lawsuit seeking $20 million in damages. The lawsuit centers on claims of negligence that they believe led to their child’s untimely death.

At the core of the lawsuit is the allegation that the YMCA had inadequate supervision at the time of the incident. According to the complaint, only one lifeguard was on duty, overseeing 38 children in the pool. This allegation points to a grave oversight in ensuring the safety of the young swimmers.

The lawsuit further claims that Auston was not provided with a floatie or administered a swim test before entering the pool. This lack of basic safety measures is a critical failure for the YMCA staff.

A Heartbreaking Discovery in the Pool

The complaint describes a harrowing scene where Auston lost his grip and struggled in the water. It alleges that he drowned in 8 feet of water. Adding to the tragedy, the lawsuit states that daycare staffers failed to supervise the children properly.

It was not the staff but other children who discovered Auston in the pool. This detail paints a picture of a child unnoticed in his time of dire need. An autopsy later revealed that one of Auston's lungs was full of water, confirming the cause of death as drowning.

Representing the family, attorneys labeled the incident as "gross negligence." They argue that this negligence directly led to the young boy’s death. The following statement from the family's attorneys captures their anguish: "He was ignored, unattended, forgotten, and neglected."

YMCA Responds to Allegations

In response to these serious allegations, Dave Adkins, CEO of Pulaski County YMCA, issued a statement. He emphasized that the YMCA takes all allegations of wrongdoing very seriously. This response indicates a recognition of the gravity of the situation, though it stops short of admitting any fault.

As the lawsuit progresses, the community and the family seek answers and justice. The YMCA's response and actions in the wake of this tragedy are being closely monitored by the public and media alike.

Community in Mourning

The death of Auston Wingo Jr. has reverberated throughout the Pulaski County community. It's a stark reminder of the responsibilities that institutions like the YMCA hold in ensuring the safety of children under their care.

The community, while mourning the loss of a young life, also grapples with questions about safety protocols and supervision standards at local recreational facilities. This incident has raised concerns about whether enough is being done to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

As the case against the YMCA unfolds, many in the community are rallying to support the Wingo family, sharing their grief and their quest for answers and justice.

Lessons to Learn from This Tragedy

This tragedy offers stark lessons about safety, supervision, and accountability. First, it highlights the critical importance of adequate supervision, especially in potentially dangerous environments like swimming pools. One lifeguard for 38 children is a glaring mismatch that risks lives.

Second, the necessity of appropriate safety measures, like providing floaties and conducting swim tests for young children, cannot be overstated. These are simple yet effective ways to prevent such tragedies.

Third, institutions and caregivers must always be vigilant and proactive in protecting children. Regular training and strict adherence to safety protocols are essential. Lastly, despite taking all precautions, it's important to remember that accidents can happen. Blaming the victim or their family is never appropriate, as crime and accidents can occur to anyone.

Why This Story Matters

This story is a crucial reminder of the responsibilities of caring for children. It underscores the need for stringent safety measures and vigilant supervision in all facilities that cater to young people. The tragedy of Auston Wingo Jr. is not just a personal loss for his family; it is a wake-up call for the community and similar institutions nationwide to re-evaluate and strengthen their safety protocols.

Ultimately, this story matters because it brings to light the devastating consequences of negligence. It serves as a reminder that every precaution must be taken to safeguard the lives of our children, who are our society's most vulnerable and precious members.


  • Auston Wingo Jr., a 5-year-old, drowned in a YMCA pool under questionable supervision.
  • The family has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the YMCA, alleging negligence.
  • The YMCA had only one lifeguard for 38 children, and Auston was not given a floatie or a swim test.
  • The lawsuit claims gross negligence and a lack of proper supervision led to Auston's drowning.
  • The community and the family seek justice and accountability in this tragic case.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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