Mother Files Lawsuit After Daughter Drowns At Myrtle Beach resort

Daughter Drowns At Myrtle Beach resort

After witnessing her older sister glide along the lazy river, 4-year-old Demi Williams yearned to join in.

The lazy river loop at the Myrtle Beach resort stood at about three feet deep, just half a foot taller than Demi. Her mother, Destiny Morgan, consented to her toddler’s desire, then waited patiently for Demi’s return through the loop.

However, Demi never returned. Frantically searching for her daughter, Morgan eventually discovered her amidst a crowd by an adjacent pool, where strangers were administering CPR. Despite efforts, Demi was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, as reported by CNN affiliate WMBF.

Morgan contends in the lawsuit that the 2021 tragedy was a result of Crown Reef Beach Resort and Waterpark’s negligence.

At the time of the drowning, there was no lifeguard or staff on duty, and no exterior cameras monitored the pool area, the lawsuit alleges. Additionally, poor and inadequate lighting plagued the resort, according to the lawsuit.

Efforts to obtain comment from Sam Stathos, the registered agent for Crown Reef Resort, yielded no response, despite multiple attempts by CNN. Similarly, CNN’s voicemails to the Crown Reef Resort front desk remained unanswered.

While the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control clarified in an email to CNN that the resort isn’t legally obligated to station lifeguards at pools without slides, they must display signs stating “No Lifeguard on Duty Swim at Your Own Risk” where lifeguards are absent. Following the drowning, the department inspected the resort’s pools and confirmed compliance with signage regulations.

Morgan was charged

Morgan faced legal repercussions herself after her daughter’s death. Initially arrested and charged with unlawful neglect of a child, nearly three years later, her case was dismissed when prosecutors chose not to pursue it.

A witness present at the drowning scene recounted to police seeing a female, likely Demi’s mother, take the 4-year-old to the pool before departing. This witness had also observed the same adult leaving Demi in a hot tub earlier that day while she headed to the beach.

Despite CNN’s efforts, attorneys for Morgan declined to comment on the matter.

Demi’s tragic drowning occurred just days before another child, 5-year-old Shane Chester, was rescued from the pool at another Myrtle Beach hotel, the Ocean Reef Resort, as reported by WMBF.

The Crown Reef Resort faced a similar lawsuit in 2020 after 7-year-old Malazya Fayall drowned in the resort pool in August 2018. Alleging overcrowding and lack of lifeguard or camera surveillance, Latoya Fayall, Malazya’s mother, pursued legal action against the resort.

Crown Reef Resort settled with Latoya Fayall for $500,000 through its insurer without admitting liability, according to court documents. The case was dismissed with prejudice in 2023.

Adam Katchmarchi, CEO of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, urged resorts to explore providing lifeguards and other safety measures at pools despite state laws not mandating their presence. With drowning being the leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 4 in the United States, Katchmarchi emphasized the importance of parents creating a “vacation water safety planning tool” as warmer months approach.

“While we rely on safety officials like lifeguards, we must all prioritize our family’s safety,” Katchmarchi emphasized.