Violations Unfixed at House Where Boy Drowned

The owner of a house where an 11-year-old boy drowned earlier this month will have to appear in court over building code violations town officials found after the boy's death.

David Betts, the director of the town's public safety division, said a citation was issued to Elizabeth Bianco, the listed owner of 508 Route 114 in East Hampton last Thursday when a follow-up inspection revealed that several previously reported issues related to pool safety had not yet been fixed properly.

East Hampton Town police Detective Sgt. Greg Schaefer has said he did not believe the any of the building code issues contributed to the boy's death. A family friend who was with him saw him go out into the pool area, he said.

Mr. Betts and Tom Preiato, the town's chief building inspector, said they had given Ms. Bianco, and her husband, Joseph Bianco, ample time to correct violations of the New York State Property Maintenance Code as it pertains to pools. While the homeowners were cooperative, 11 days after the drowning, three doors leading from the house into the pool area still didn't have alarms on them and five gates leading to the pool were not self-closing or self-latching, the officials said.

Derek B. Smith, an 11-year-old from Brooklyn, was visiting the house on June 1 with a family friend who reportedly works for one of the Biancos. The woman, whose name police did not release, found Derek at the bottom of the pool after he was out of her sight for just three or four minutes while playing with a ball around the pool. He was not breathing, and despite resuscitation efforts, he was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital.

After his initial inspection, Mr. Preiato reported five of the doors leading out to the pool were not outfitted with alarms and five exterior gates were not self-closing and self-latching. Also, he said, a section of the pool fence that was approximately 8 feet long was only 36 inches high where 48 inches is required and a section of lattice fencing had spacing between it that was greater than the 1 3/4 inches that is permitted.

Officials said that immediate efforts were made, but some were "temporary solutions."

Mr. Betts said town officials are following normal procedure in issuing a summons since all of the issues were not taken care of in a reasonable amount of time. "I'm sure they will rectify all the issues," he said. "We have an obligation as well."

In late 2001, Mr. Preiato inspected the property before the certificate of occupancy was issued in 2002. It met code requirements at that time, he said.

Ms. Bianco, who could not be reached for comment, is due in East Hampton Town Justice Court on July 7.