Jury hears wrongful death law suit against county lifeguard

Moments before he fell under the wheel of an L.A. County Lifeguard truck, 2-year-old Kevin Aban briefly returned to the lunch supplies his family brought along on its outing to Santa Monica Beach, according to court testimony. He snatched more bread for the seagulls who had become his fast friends that summer afternoon two years ago. With the snacks in his hands, Kevin resumed chasing and feeding the gulls.

Lifeguard Lt. Conrad Liberty did not see a little boy running on the sand. In fact, he did not see anyone in his path as he drove towards the Santa Monica Pier.

Liberty testified that he heard a “thump.” He stopped his truck, stepped out, and looked back to see Kevin lying face down in the sand, said Anthony Dain, attorney for the Aban family in its wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the lifeguard, now pending in the courtroom of Malibu Superior Court Judge James A. Albrecht.

Kevin’s parents, Ricardo and Janeth Aban, say in their $3 million suit that the county should have posted signs informing beachgoers that lifeguard trucks drive on the sand, because the Abans, who do not frequent the beach, did not know that they did.

The Abans also argue that the county should have required Liberty to send out warning sounds as he drove down the beach.

Janeth Aban had brought her four children to the beach with her that day, along with her sister-in-law, her mother, her cousin and nieces and nephews. Aban’s back was to Kevin when he was hit by the truck, according to testimony.

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“Janeth Aban’s one concern for Kevin was keeping him from the water,” Dain said in his opening statement to the jury. Because they were sitting not far from a lifeguard tower, she was not worried about Kevin playing behind her, he said.

The county’s attorney, Marc Wodin, claimed in his opening statement that Kevin was 55 feet from the family blanket when he was hit by the truck, and that his mother’s negligence led to his death.

The case may go to the jury by the end of the week.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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