Parents of drowned boys sue Gwinnett County

The parents of two Dacula boys who drowned last year are seeking $10 million each in lawsuits that claim Gwinnett County firefighters were negligent in the boys’ deaths.

Jacob Bullock, 14, and Marvens Mathurin, 13, died Jan. 9, 2010, after falling through the ice on a frozen neighborhood pond. In separate complaints filed Thursday in Gwinnett County State Court, the boys’ families claim two county firefighters “intentionally chose not to attempt a rescue” of the boys for at least 40 minutes after arriving at the scene.

Gwinnett County spokeswoman Heather Sawyer said the county does not comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuits and news accounts, the boys were walking with a friend on a pond in the Daniel Park subdivision. They had seen several girls playing on the ice and assumed it was safe.

The ice gave way and Mathurin fell into the frigid water. The other boys fell in while trying to rescue him.

The third boy eventually pulled himself out, but Bullock and Mathurin remained in the water.

According to the lawsuits, Gwinnett firefighters arrived while the two boys were still in the water and the third boy was on the ice. But they did not attempt to rescue them despite having life jackets and a wet suit. Instead, they waited at least 40 minutes until a boat arrived, the lawsuits claim. But the two boys had drowned.

A Fire Department spokesman said at the time of the boys’ deaths that responders are trained not to go into the water to rescue people until their equipment has arrived.

The lawsuits claim the firefighters’ failure to attempt a rescue and failure to bring a boat to the scene earlier led to the boys’ deaths. The lawsuits also accuse the Daniel Park Community Association of failing to maintain the pond in a safe and secure manner and failing to warn residents of the dangerous conditions.

Representatives of the community association could not be reached for comment Friday.