Danika Ross died in July after being sucked into a pipe in an artificial lake in Quincy, Washington. Her family is suing for wrongful death.
QUINCY, Washington— WARNING: This story contains graphic details of a child’s injuries.
The family of a 10-year-old girl filed a wrongful death lawsuit a few weeks ago, but the parents chose to speak to KREM 2 about the loss of their daughter.
The death of Danika Ross has left the community stunned. Now her family must pick up the pieces of what was once her life.
You read the parenting books. They taught their children not to talk to strangers, to look both ways before crossing the street, and to always buckle their seat belts. Unfortunately, Margarita and Simon Ross could never prepare for it.
“You can’t imagine that happening,” said Margarita, Danika’s mother. “Most Hollywood writers can’t make up stories like that; how terrible it is, how unimaginable and inevitable.
Danika Ross, 10, was traveling with her family to Quincy, Washington for the summer vacation, but that trip ended in tragedy. She drowned after being sucked into an irrigation pipe in a man-made lake.
“It’s like a huge void that can’t be filled,” added Simon, Danika’s father. “That’s what makes it so difficult to process. It’s like nothing prepares you for it.”
The family is now suing property owners Cave B and Familigia Water District, citing their negligence as the cause of their daughter’s wrongful death. Despite advertising swimming in the water on the Cave B website, that lake was “literally a death trap,” the lawsuit claimed. According to Cave B’s website, the lake is used for both recreation and irrigation of the winery.
The pipe was not barred, it was larger than necessary and there were no warnings, signs or other evidence that there was an unbarred pipe in the lake creating suction, the suit added.
“It’s hard to imagine the death of your child,” Margarita said. But hearing how it actually happened and thinking about what she went through in the final moments of her life makes it that much more horrifying.”
Her death was caused by suffocation from drowning and also torso compression from the pressure in the line, the Grant County Coroner’s Office announced KREM 2 , terrifying and senseless.”
RELATED: The family of a 10-year-old girl who drowned in a lake in Washington Winery is suing for wrongful death
After being sucked into the pipe, the ten-year-old was “pushed into a 90-degree bend in the pipe” and then “her body was transported nearly 70 feet up the hill via the mechanical pumping mechanism,” the document said.
The document also said the siblings and young family friend watched helplessly as Danika was pulled into the pipe as the girl screamed for help. Her 7-year-old sister, who was six at the time, tried to save her but didn’t have the strength to break the pull, said attorney Anthony Marsh of Herrmann Law Group. The family friend’s mother, who was watching all the children, jumped in to try to find Danika after she disappeared, but she was gone.
“It’s our own grief that we have to deal with, and beyond that, the grief of the children,” Simon said. “We have to use our imaginations all the time to help the kids deal with it. My seven-year-old manages more than once an hour. She writes poems to Danika. When we go to the store, she buys her toys. She talks about how Danika is doing in heaven.”
Danika is survived by her parents, six siblings and half-siblings, and close family friends who are basically relatives in Issaquah.
“And the other thing is that younger kids in particular are growing up all the time now,” he added. “[They say]’ I have to be careful because I don’t want to die like my sister did.'”
“Sevastian always talks about Danika because he was the last one to hold her hand,” Margarita said of her eight-year-old son. “In the morning he’ll say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen Danica in my dreams, I miss her so much.’ He talks about her all the time.”
Danika wanted to be a vet but also loved making videos on TikTok and Youtube. She included her siblings in the videos and became the heart of the family. Without her, the family feels empty, the family says.
“There is no hope,” she said. Every day I think maybe it’s getting a little easier, but it’s not. I know what they say about “time heals,” but I know it won’t be. I don’t know if it will ever be enough [time]because every day I realize more and more that this is how we should live now.”
The family is suing Cave B, the Familigia company and its water district, and several other people associated with each organization for negligence. The lawsuit states that the defendants were responsible for the “construction, installation and maintenance” of the pump and for pumping the lake for recreational use without warning of the dangers of the pipe.
In fact, the suit added that a website advertisement for renting a lake house said, “The back patio is just steps from the lake and has plenty of seating for your group, an electric grill, and a large gas fire pit.” Beach towels, two inflatable paddle boards, and other water toys are included for your enjoyment. The lake is artificially created and lined. It is used to irrigate the vineyards and is topped up with fresh well water when needed.” The advert now has a disclaimer following the original statement. Cave B added, “Currently, the lake is not suitable for water activities or swimming.” The lawsuit also added that the pipe system does not comply with state and federal laws.
“We relied on other people’s duty of care,” Simon said. “It wasn’t there. Everything is strict, especially when it comes to business and a lot of authorities, permits, engineering. We get used to believing in protection by authorities, by a local government, that certain things are checked , checked, approved and then implemented. We rely on that as citizens. We also try to do our due diligence. We play by the rules. We abide by the laws of society. Therefore, in a sense, we are responsible for each other’s safety, even if you’re driving on the road. If you don’t follow these simple guidelines, you could hurt someone. But this one is a lot worse because you’re building something and putting it in an area where it’s going to be exposed to so many different types of use , all kinds of applications.”
The negligent acts or omissions of the defendants caused Danika Ross’ wrongful death, the suit alleges. The family suffered “received economic and noneconomic damages,” including past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of income or earning capacity, emotional distress, grief, loss of zest for life, mental anguish and pain and suffering, the lawsuit added. The Ross family has suffered harm including the loss of income accumulation and expenses incurred for medical treatment, funeral and burial, as well as the conscious pain, suffering, anxiety and fears of the imminent death of the deceased,” she continued.
“The beneficiaries of the estate continue to suffer general damages as a result of losses to the estate as a result of her untimely death Danika Ross, the total amount must be determined on the basis of facts,” the doctor added.
Any child swimming there could become the victim, the parents said.
“It’s hard to deal with,” he says. “It’s like, what else can I do to protect my kids going forward?”
It is impossible to quantify the cost of a child’s death, but the family is asking that other parents be made aware. They said this could have been anyone else’s child, but hers happened to pay the ultimate price. Both parents happened to be away due to a family emergency that they now say could turn back time. Margarita found out through a phone call from one of Danika’s older half-sisters, Alina, 30. Simon was dealing with a family emergency in the Seattle area, and Margarita was a few hours away.
“Alina said there is an emergency situation,” she said. “We prepared for the worst but I couldn’t think of what to think of.
“I called her right away. She said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, but it seems like Danika drowned. I said, ‘There’s no way that happened because she’s been a great swimmer her whole life. There was no way. Maybe she’s hiding somewhere.’ I ask you to keep me informed. I’m starting to come back.
“[These were the] Two to three hours of my life at worst, because you hope, you really hope,” she continued through tears. “And every call you get, that’s it. It’s just gone and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“I took a picture of the sunset where all the kids are on the beach during the sunset on the shore of this little lake,” Simon added. “Then about 10 minutes or 15 minutes later I get a call I wish I would never get in my life.”
While Margarita was out, the family friend stayed in the water looking for Danika. The friend was brought out by rescue workers.
“[The friend] later suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized for an examination. After it became clear that she was missing, the family and Good Samaritans went on a desperate search for her, crossing their arms and searching the lake for signs of her body. No one would be found,” the lawsuit says.
Eventually, the 10-year-old’s body had to be recovered by opening the pipe about 75 feet from the lake, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office investigation said. Her body had to be pulled out of the pipe by firefighters, they added.
“For us, it’s just picking up bits and pieces of what’s left of our lives,” Simon said.
Once a person dies, Russian tradition holds that the person’s soul will linger on earth for up to 40 additional days. Danika’s memorial service was held 40 days after her death, which happened to be her 11th birthday.
KREM 2 contacted Cave B several times but received no response. KREM 2 could not establish contact with Familigia. King County Superior Court lists the case to go to trial in the summer of 2022.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/family-mourns-loss-of-10-year-old-girl-drowned-winery/293-343a7c7e-941f-4aec-bb54-99a01df09cbd ‘Huge void that can’t be filled’: Family mourns loss of 10-year-old girl who drowned at winery